Joe Henderson: Michael Grieco’s withdrawal from SD 36 another blow to Dems

Florida Democrats pull their latest Washington Generals act in Senate District 36 race.

The Florida Democratic Party has become the Washington Generals of state politics.

For you non-sports folks, the Generals served as the regular opponent for basketball’s Harlem Globetrotters. The Generals had one job: lose.

They did that well. Estimates are they lost more than 10,000 times. There’s no accurate win-loss record for the team, but the most reliable estimate had the Generals winning three times in decades of play.

At least the Generals tried to lose. The same can’t be said for Democrats, but they just don’t know how to win.

Why bring this up now?

Because in South Florida, Democratic Rep. Michael Grieco confirmed Wednesday he’s ending his campaign for the Senate District 36 seat. That’s the district represented by cuckoo Republican incumbent Sen. Ileana García.

Garcia, you may recall, won the office over an incumbent Democrat by a mere 32 votes in a 2020 race. Later reports uncovered a “ghost candidate” scheme that could land GOP political operative Frank Artiles in prison.

The one skill Garcia mastered is the art of opening her mouth and inserting her foot. This seat should be an easy pick-up for Democrats, who need every seat they can get.

So, why is Grieco exiting this close to the August Primary?

He tweeted: “Our campaign’s predicted lack of necessary resources is not from the absence of local community support, but from the lack of a backbone by the Tallahassee establishment that talks a good game but fails to walk the walk when dedicated public servants choose to stick their necks out for their community.”


In an 11-tweet thread announcing his withdrawal, Grieco had some other pointed comments.

He said he believes many of his “longtime-held positions” weren’t in lockstep with what party leaders demand. These include his views on public safety, the economy, and against Cuban and Venezuelan détente.

He wrote that other stances in line with independents and moderates “make it difficult to attract the requisite financial backing essential to having a shot at the ballot box, especially in partisan races.”

Grieco would have needed that money, he said, because he expected Republicans would otherwise outspend him “at a rate of at least 4-to-1 and to the obscene tune of five to ten million dollars.”

He added there was “no identifiable path to being competitive in this race.”

However, in a talk later with Florida Politics reporter Jesse Schnecker, he toned it down a bit.

“This isn’t about Senate Victory or the Democratic Party reprioritizing. I’m one of their top priorities. They just don’t have the money,” he said. “This is more about the donors than the party. Two years ago, the Senate candidate had $4 million to $5 million. I’ll be lucky to have a third of that.”

In a statement, the Florida Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee vowed that “a strong Democrat” would soon take Grieco’s place.

Good luck with that.

Let’s recap.

A two-term Democratic House member sees what should be a golden opportunity slip away because his party can’t commit the resources to compete.

Those leaders say they’ll find a strong fill-in candidate to win the seat, but that still doesn’t address the money gap. And why is there such a funding problem? Because national Democratic strategists apparently believe Florida’s transition from blue to purple, and now to red, is complete.

How did that happen?

It’s not that complicated. For too long, Democrats took those “moderate and independent” voters Grieco referenced for granted. They didn’t believe enough people would be dumb enough to choose Rick Scott (twice) or Donald Trump (not even once).

Now, they cling to the hope that DeSantis’ culture wars turn off the middle majority, but the polls show otherwise.

DeSantis may have stoked the divisive culture wars, but at least he has a message. The Democrats’ message is that they have no message. Saying “vote for us because we’re not them” doesn’t work.

Same as it ever was.

Joe Henderson

I have a 45-year career in newspapers, including nearly 42 years at The Tampa Tribune. Florida is wacky, wonderful, unpredictable and a national force. It's a treat to have a front-row seat for it all.


  • Brandon

    June 1, 2022 at 9:15 pm

    One of the very few times Florida Politics has a well written article about the realities of the political environment here in the Sunshine State. The usual cheerleading for mainly liberal causes and politicians was for once placed in the back burner in this article.

    I would add to this is that the bigger picture here is that we voters are angry at our elected officials and we see effecting us like inflation, gas prices, shortages, crime, violence, high prices, shortages, etc. The main focus is Biden and the lunatics that control the Democrat Party scares the hell out of many of us. No, Republicans are not off the hook either, Cocaine Mitch and Kevin McCarthy are in it for themselves. But the reigns of power come from a FAT federal government that is out of control and the ones who control it are democrats. As a result will hurt Florida democrats and it should. They must be punished by losing and even if good ones leave, so be it. We are pissed at what we see and November does not come soon enough.

    • Mother Superior Slapshot, Bishop Newman High School

      June 1, 2022 at 10:12 pm

      Thank goodness for your vigilance, Mister Brandon. I must applaud you for all the many hours you have spent reading through all of the works of the many writers of Florida Politics to finally find “One of the very few times” any of them got it right. Rest easy now, settle down, take a nap, good boy, get some sleep. More FP tomorrow, bless your heart.

      • jon

        June 2, 2022 at 10:51 pm

        Thank you for your snark, Mother Superior. You are one clever, classy nun.

  • Ron Ogden

    June 1, 2022 at 10:49 pm

    “Same as it ever was..”
    Pouting is distasteful in children, Joe. It’s ridiculous in adults.

Comments are closed.


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