Florida has been saddled with a Republican governor since the 1990s: Democrats were unable to topple Jeb Bush, Charlie Crist, and even Rick Scott, a thief who is the anthropomorphic version of that smog-spewing factory from the Pink Floyd album cover Pigs.
Just this week, the Democrats are threatening to yet again trip over their own shoelaces and lose another easily winnable district: After GOP state Sen. Frank Artiles was forced to resign after getting caught using the N-word and hiring Hooters waitresses as "consultants," state Rep. Daisy Baez announced she'd run to take his place. She became the Democratic frontrunner — until the Miami Herald this week revealed she didn't live in her own district. She dropped out of the race Friday to "spend time with her daughter."
Perennial loser Annette Taddeo is now the main Democratic candidate to take Artiles' seat. She'll face off against Jose Felix "Pepi" Diaz, a Republican state representative who will absolutely beat Taddeo despite the fact that he was once fired after two episodes on Donald Trump's The Apprentice. Artiles' seat was supposed to be a sure-fire win for the Dems, who face a Republican field browbeaten by Trump.
Likewise, the state party's new president, Sarah Boynton Brown (who is, confusingly, the party's second in command), gave a talk last week to the Democratic Progressive Caucus of Broward County where she repeatedly refused to commit to pushing the party toward a more progressive platform. Instead, she said poor voters don't care about "issues," like their own health care or wages, and vote only because they are "emotional beings." She also suggested it might be a good thing that so many Florida Democrats take campaign donations from huge corporations such as Florida Power & Light, because that creates a "relationship" that helps politicians push back on corporate power. *Cough*
This week was nothing new for the foot-shooting Florida Dems. Here's a recap of a bunch of New Times' old complaints about the party:
1. "What the Hell Is Wrong With the Florida Democratic Party?" (2010)
The Florida Democratic Party has nearly 600,000 more registered voters in the state than the Republicans, yet last night they failed miserably in delivering on a single important race. Their Governor candidate lost to a man who ran a company involved in the biggest Medicare fraud case in American history. Their Attorney General candidate, as sharp and competent a politician as you're going to get out of Florida, lost to a former Fox News legal analyst. Both state houses now have historically high Republican super majorities. Less than 50 percent of Democratic voters cast their ballot for the party's Senate nominee.2. "Florida's Democratic Party Is a Joke, but Who Is the Punchline: Its Leaders or Voters?" (2014)
What the hell is wrong with the Florida Democratic Party, and how can it be fixed?
For four years, Florida Democrats giggled with glee at every Rick Scott failure. They practically drooled with expectation as Scott's approval ratings sunk further than a boat in the Bermuda Triangle. They thought there was no way they could lose to this guy again, but last night they did, and Charlie Crist actually did slightly worse than Alex Sink had four years earlier.3. "Florida Democrats Chair on Election Loss Fallouts: 'The Bed-Wetters Need to Shut Up!'" (2014)
Not only did they lose the governor's mansion for a fifth election in a row, but they also lost every single cabinet race, failed to make a dent in the state Senate, and lost enough seats in the state House for Republicans to claim a supermajority.
After some embarrassing losses in the midterm elections, the Florida Democratic Party is full of some finger pointing and infighting at the moment, but the party's State Chairwoman Allison Tant is sick of it.4. "The Florida Democratic Party Is a Damn Disgrace" (2016)
She told the News Service of Florida that "the bed-wetters need to shut up, and we need to move on."
There are a hell of a lot of Democrats in Florida. In fact, more of them are registered here than Republicans. Obama won the state twice. And the blue party has demographics on its side thanks to a growing, left-leaning Hispanic population.5. "Florida's Top Democrats Line Up to Support Trump's Syrian Airstrike" (2017)
So why is the Florida Democratic Party still such a damn disgrace? In 2014, losing the governorship to widely despised Rick Scott felt like an embarrassing nadir, but it turns out Sunshine State Dems were just teetering on the edge of the real abyss. This past Tuesday night, they dove right in.
Donald Trump won the state by almost 120,000 votes. Marco Rubio clobbered Patrick Murphy. All the incumbent GOP U.S. House reps in Miami kept their seats. And despite the Florida Supreme Court un-gerrymandering several Senate districts, the Dems made almost no gains in Tallahassee. They picked up a single Senate seat and two measly House seats, still leaving them far from any kind of real influence.
If you were to take the words of Florida Sen. Bill Nelson, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Rep. Ted Deutch, and pretty much any other Democratic congressperson in the Sunshine State at face value, Donald Trump is an unstable, proto-fascist warmonger, uncontrollable narcissist, and serial sexual predator who should never have been able to come near any sort of missile-launching device.
In the past 24 hours, however, those same lawmakers appear to have jettisoned that argument and are now totally cool with Trump firing missiles into the Middle East at a moment's notice. In fact, Florida's top Democrats are now heaping praise upon the president after he launched a bucketful of cruise missiles at Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad's forces last night.