Campaign Crawlers

Campaign Crawlers

The Case of the Excited Republicans

By 8.29.14

By now word has reached even the remotest Florida precincts that incumbent Republican governor Rick Scott has won the right to run for a second term by trouncing two primary challengers who were unknown and weaker than Obama’s foreign policy.

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Now It’s Official

By 8.27.14

To the surprise of no one not on controlled substances, Rick Scott and Charlie Crist overcame weak primary opponents in a low turn-out election Tuesday to become the Republican and Democratic nominees for Florida governor. So it’s officially Mr. Sunshine against Mr. Clean (anyone who has seen Crist campaign and seen a picture of Scott will not question these sobriquets).

Incumbent Scott was the choice of 88 percent of Republicans over two unknown vanity candidates. Florida Democrats demonstrated that they want the Florida governorship so badly — an office their party hasn’t held since 1994 — that they’re willing to run just anyone with name recognition to achieve it. And badly is how they will get it if Crist wins in November, an outcome that seems increasingly unlikely.

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Florida Air War

By 8.20.14


The governor’s race in Florida is on and it’s ugly. But like our pathetic response to ISIS, it’s almost entirely an air war. Mostly throwing dirt high into the air to little or no effect.

Incumbent Republican governor Rick Scott, along with his Democrat (for the moment) challenger and former Florida governor Charlie Crist, plus the various groups supporting these two, are running lots of television ads. Most of these ads helpfully point out that the other guy is a villain, a blackguard, a knave, a poltroon, and a low-down suck-egg dog (or words to this effect) with neither the integrity nor competence to be trusted with the office of assistant county rat-catcher, let alone governor. If Florida voters believe these ads, this could be the first election for governor in which no one votes.

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Two Thumbs Down

By 7.31.14

Harry Enten, an analyst with FiveThirtyEight, a political website owned by ESPN, claims he can prove with charts and graphs that Republican Florida Governor Rick Scott and his Democratic challenger Charlie Crist are the most unpopular pair to face each other in a governor’s race for at least the last decade. Without even consulting the charts and graphs, few Floridians outside of Scott’s or Crist’s camp would argue with Enten.

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Sen. Lindsey Graham Lives Another Day

By 6.11.14

During an interview I conducted back in April with Rep. Trey Gowdy for a profile that would appear in this very magazine, I asked the amiable South Carolinian if he had thought about challenging Sen. Lindsey Graham in his Senate primary this year. Gowdy laughed at me.

“Yes, I thought about challenging Lindsey Graham,” he told me jokingly, “because he out-negotiated me on the tee box the last time he and I played golf. And I would love to challenge him again at the course of his choosing!”

“Um, no,” he added simply. Gowdy, a popular and well-liked conservative in the House of Representatives, would have been as formidable a challenger as they come. He’s spent his life in the Palmetto State, working in the legal system to put criminals behind bars. He’s a legal crusader and a prosecutor, and even Speaker John Boehner, for better or worse, recognized his star power by appointing him chairman of the special committee to investigate Benghazi.

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Mississippi Keeps Fighting

By 6.4.14

HATTIESBURG, Mississippi — The most closely watched campaign in the country will continue for another three weeks, as Tea Party-backed challenger Chris McDaniel and Sen. Thad Cochran head to a June 24 runoff in the Republican primary here. Neither candidate won a majority in Tuesday’s primary vote, but McDaniel’s margin of about 2,000 votes out of more than 300,000 votes cast was enough for the young state senator to declare his win “a historic moment” for Mississippi.

“Our fight is not over,” McDaniel told the crowd in the Hattiesburg Convention Center ballroom last Tuesday night, as votes continued to be counted. “Whether it’s tomorrow, or whether it’s three weeks from tonight, we will stand victorious.”

The runoff was forced because there were three candidates on the ballot and a little-noticed third candidate, businessman Thomas Carey, got nearly 5,000 votes — only 1.6 percent of the total, but enough to keep McDaniel below the crucial majority needed to avoid the runoff. Yet the result Tuesday was cause for celebration among Tea Party activists who have spent months campaigning to defeat the six-term incumbent Cochran.

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Shock Waves in Mississippi

By 6.3.14

ITAWAMBA COUNTY, Mississippi — State Sen. Chris McDaniel finished up an early morning campaign stop Monday by urging his supporters to “push like you’ve never pushed before” to get voters to the polls in Tuesday’s Republican primary. Polls show the Tea Party-backed challenger is neck-and-neck with incumbent Sen. Thad Cochran and turnout will be the decisive factor in a bitterly contested GOP fight that has drawn national attention.

“If we can unseat a 42-year incumbent, it will send shock waves through this country,” McDaniel told about 40 of his supporters who turned out for a breakfast meeting at Chick-fil-A in Tupelo.

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A Jolly Time for St. Petersburg Republicans

By 5.15.14

If Nancy Pelosi becomes the new Speaker of the House after November — don’t put the mortgage money on it — it won’t be St. Petersburg’s fault.

Almost certainly Republicans won’t have to worry about retaining Florida’s District 13 seat in the U.S. House this November. The filing deadline for the race has passed, and the Democrats have no candidate.

The March special election to fill the remainder of long-time Republican Bill Young’s term -- Young died in October -- was major political news nationally because it was the only game going. And what’s a political reporter without a race to report on?

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A Jolly Time for Central Florida Republicans

By 3.12.14

For the first time in 44 years, someone other than Republican Bill Young will represent Florida’s 13th congressional district in the U.S. House. That someone will be Republican David Jolly, a 41-year-old lawyer who worked as an aide to Young for years before becoming a lobbyist and businessman.

An 82-year-old Young, a senior and well-liked member of Congress, announced last October that he would not seek a 23rd term. He died a week later, setting up Tuesday’s special election to fill his seat. It was a close business, with Jolly edging out Democrat Alex Sink by 88,294 votes to 84,877, a margin of a little more than 3,400 votes. Libertarian Lucas Overby scooped up 8,799 votes. The 40 percent turnout was higher than most expected, higher than your average off-year, special election.

The dimension of the narrow win roughly reflects the narrow registration advantage Republicans enjoy in the district, throwing into doubt the idea that this special election informs us about the much talked about but almost never sighted “national mood.”

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Will Alex Sink?

By 3.7.14

Tuesday we will know who is to represent the 13th Congressional District of Florida in the U.S. House, at least until November, when we will have to count votes for the same office again. Will voters in St. Petersburg, Clearwater, and Largo choose the reasonably conservative Republican David Jolly, or the standard-issue liberal Democrat Alex Sink?

Political handicappers might be tempted to forecast a win for Sink, as an average of the polls taken so far puts her narrowly ahead. When she ran for Florida CFO in 2006 and for governor in 2010, Sink carried the congressional district. And the little hustler from Chicago, now watching HBO and reading Golf Digest at 1600, also carried the increasingly purple district in 2008 and 2012.