Why is former Vice President Joe Biden campaigning for an unknown Democrat in a single open Florida House seat that means nothing to state governance? And why are gobs of money from Democratic donors around the nation pouring in to this special election covering North Sarasota?
Because Democrats have been losing a lot lately — the historic tax reform success, roaring economy, their fiasco of a performance at the State of the Union, apparent collusion between Democrats and Russia and now Obama being outed in a bald-faced lie on discussing the Clinton email investigation with the FBI. Further, GOP poll numbers have closed the gap sharply on Democrats in the generic ballot poll and Trump’s approvals are improving in all polls.
This is all terrible for Democrats. They are desperate for a victory, and a fairly even House district in Southwest Florida may be just the ticket. Rep. Julio Gonzalez explains the underlying desperation in his article on the death throes of the Obama wing of the Democratic Party.
Here’s the setting.
Florida House District 72 covers northern Sarasota County and has a modest four percentage point advantage in registration for Republicans. The seat has been held by Democrats and moderate Republicans and the last Republican holder resigned mid-term, setting up this special election.
The election has elicited record turnout in voters before the polls even open on election day, Tuesday, with more early voting still to be done.
The race pits conservative Republican James Buchanan, son of Congressman Vern Buchanan, against liberal Democrat lawyer Margaret Good and a very strong Libertarian Party candidate in Alison Foxall.
The Florida Legislature boasts a veto-proof Republican majority, so this race has no meaning in Tallahassee functioning. Yet it is awash in money. Buchanan comes with the deep ties and wealth of his father and through Jan. 4 had raised a total of $282,630 — and a lot more since then. Much came from a previous race he was planning to run in. But Good had quickly raised $227,314 in just a few months. And Foxall had raised nearly $15,000, more than any Libertarian state House candidate in Florida history. Plus, there has already been hundreds of thousands spent through campaign PACs on both sides.
And while Biden has endorsed Good, Gov. Rick Scott has endorsed Buchanan. Former Trump advisor Corey Lewandowski is visiting Sarasota Sunday and will likely endorse Buchanan.
All of this is a lot of heft for a race that is all but meaningless as far as governance goes. But Democrats are desperate for some sort of win, something suggesting they have not totally lost all of the political mojo they showed for much of 2017 when it looked like a wave election could be developing in the 2018 mid-term. That hope is dwindling daily.
The win-at-all-costs strategy shows in more than fundraising. Advertising is not just the normal negative attack ads, but almost ridiculous attack ads. Here’s a prime example:
Democrat Good is sending out mailers claiming that Buchanan does not believe in climate change. There is not even a tiny shred of truth to this, and Good seems to know it. In fact, Buchanan is probably more pro-environment than your average moderate Republican.
In a recent debate on the local ABC affiliate, Buchanan said he does believe climate change is real and serious and opposes offshore drilling in Florida. In fact, he says it all the time. He said it again at another debate. Even the local media is picking up on the lie. A recent newspaper article reported: “(Good’s) campaign has not offered any proof that Buchanan ever said he doesn’t believe in climate change.”
But Good keeps pushing the demonstrable lie: “Either he doesn’t believe in it or he doesn’t care,” Good said, because…wait for it… “Buchanan has investments in oil companies and has received campaign contributions from the sugar industry, which is often blamed for polluting the Everglades.”
There you go. Investments in oil companies mean you don’t believe in climate change. Does Good drive a combustion engine car? Does it have tires? Apparently she doesn’t believe in climate change either, as she is supporting the oil companies. And the Everglades bit just shows there is nothing there. Polluting the Glades, bad. Polluting the Glades affecting global climate change? Um, no.
But Good is sticking with those attack ads. Why? The obvious answer is that climate change (read: rising sea levels) in a coastal Florida district is a big issue. So, you know, just lie. And then spend tons of money — the majority of it from out of state — to spread the lie to unwary coastal voters before the election.
This is how wildly desperate the Democrats are to get even the tiniest win.
Rod Thomson is an author, TV talking head and former journalist, and is Founder of The Revolutionary Act.
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