(Photo: Tallahassee’s hometown candidates for governor, Gwen Graham and Andrew Gillum)
Oh well, that was fun.
The Andrew Gillum Gwen Graham spat appears to be petering to an anticlimactic conclusion. Florida progressives have begun to get serious about this year’s election.
A group of grassroots activists opened a Tallahassee office Tuesday. From a hillside opposite the statehouse a half dozen members of For Our Future FL will fan out across the capital city to encourage voters to support candidates that reflect their values.
“We’re trying to promote policies that benefit working families, the poor, the underserved and those who have been marginalized,” said Jordan Anderson, a For Our Future regional director. “Education, healthcare and real job growth – not three or four jobs to try to make a livable wage . . . I think those are the kind of issues we will see people care about come November.”
Community political action group ‘For Our Future Florida’ opens a local Tallahassee field office on Tuesday, May 15, 2018.
(Photo: Joe Rondone/Democrat)
For Our Future has $70 million to work with this election and is setting up offices across the state. Their plan, according to Anderson, is to talk to voters in their homes, on their phones and wherever they gather.
“We’re going to spend a lot of resources to mobilize voters to focus on the values we believe need to be reflected in Florida,” said Anderson.
Also, this morning Chris King took to the air in five television markets. King wants to a transformational governor in the mold of past governors like Tallahassee’s Leroy Collins and Pensacola’s Reuben Askew.
In a 30-second spot he takes on the sugar industry to highlight his environmental policy, promises to expand Medicaid and spend more on affordable housing, colleges and job training.
Philip Levine’s pitch to women voters is starting to show up in North Florida mailboxes. Levine promises to “take on the gun lobby” and would close the gun-show loophole, ban assault weapons and implement universal background checks for all purchases.
Meanwhile the surrogates for Tallahassee’s two gubernatorial candidates feud over who has a bigger progressive pickup truck seems to be running out of gas.
The writer who instigated it last week with a tweet returned to Twitter to clarify that she was talking about 209,000 African Americans, not progressives, who sat out the 2016 election because, what? Bernie Sanders wasn’t the nominee?
And Quentin James of the Collective Super PAC took to the pages of the Miami Herald to defend the group’s $700,000 media campaign questioning Graham’s record and promoting Gillum as the “progressive Florida deserves.”
“We are only seeking to educate Floridians on the truth about Graham,” James writes.
And then he complains about the establishment attacking his organization and holding it to a different standard.
Okay, let’s unpack a couple of things.
Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith, D-Orlando, leader of the Legislative Progressive Caucus, has labored mightily to prevent this spat from becoming the campaign’s focal point or to define a Florida progressive.
He tweets a candidate’s voting record is fair game. They should own it. Defend it. He said.
After-all since the two Tallahassee candidates have fled the city to go redefine themselves downstate all we have left is their records.
You think a progressive can win Florida’s 2nd Congressional District?
You think a progressive can serve 15 continuous years as an elected Tallahassee official?
A conservative philosophy has dominated Florida government and capital city for more than 20 years, long before either Graham or Gillum entered public service. How issues are framed and resolved are incubated in an environment dominated by conservative thought.
We can debate forever both candidates’ progressive credentials – and your humble correspondent had 15 years-experience writing about north Florida politics and people before either one put their name on a ballot.
Their records are not apple-to-apple comparisons. They served different constituents in different capacities, under different circumstances.
As Aubrey Jewett, University of Central Florida political scientist and a co-author of Politics in Florida, a comprehensive study of Florida politics, will tell you, there is no conservative, moderate, or progressive way to fill a pothole.
“A mayor is not dealing with issues that are overly partisan. City government is about building roads, sidewalks and overseeing city services,” observed Jewett. “On a local stage partisan politics is not as visible as they might be if you are, say a congressional representative, with a voting record on much more partisan issues that people are aware of.”
Leave it to a scientist to take the fun out of politics.