Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Rubio in US Senate race, reaction from FlaDems, Meek, Gelber

Marco Rubio announced his decision to run for the US Senate on Tuesday, prompting a Tweet from Dan Gelber and a plea for money from Kendrick Meek, two Democrats in the good-guys race for the seat held now by Mel Martinez.

UPDATE: Over at Generation Miami, Giancarlo Sopo enlightens us on Rubio by reporting on how he says one thing in English and the other in Spanish. Good work, Giancarlo. Keep it up. (This will be a long slog.)

UPDATE II: And on Huffington Post, the fine blogger Howie Klein (Down with Tyranny) has another rendition of this story. My original version is also cross-posted on Florida Progressive Coalition blog.

Still to be heard from are two more Republicans, Charlie Crist and maybe US Rep. Vern Buchanan, who’s said to be waiting to decide whether to run for the US Senate or for governor, if Crist is leaving that office.

Also, Democrat Kevin Burns, mayor of North Miami, is in the Democratic contest, and may raise his voice at news that Rubio has made up his mind to try for Washington.

Tweeted Gelber, who is in the Florida state Senate now after eight years in the Florida House of Representatives:

Rubio announced. I was the Dem Leader when he was Speaker. An unapologetic ultra conservative, he will make the R primary worth watching.
You can read it at http://twitter.com/dangelber

I make it that he could have risked another 20 or so characters in filling that 140-character-max Twitter message window. Wasn’t there more to say about Rubio?

Wait, it's there on Gelber's blog, where he makes a good point that only a small percentage of Floridians are likely to follow Rubio. "Wrongheaded" is another fine characterization of Rubio. Gelber says:

"I have a lot of respect for Marco Rubio having served with him when he was Speaker and I was the Democratic Leader. He has never broken away from his very conservative principles, even after the course of history has proven many of their ideas to be wrongheaded. The GOP is in the midst of a fight for its basic heart and soul, not to mention its very relevance in the American political discussion, and I know Marco will be a loud and effective voice for those who believe that the direction of the last eight years was the correct one and for the small percentage of Floridians and Americans who believe that a massive shift to the right is the best medicine for America's ails."

US Rep. Kendrick Meek (FL-17), who also must know Rubio from service in the state legislature, said in a message to supporters that he needs their financial support to help defend against the Republican attack machine.

That statement:

While their candidates will be battling each other, the Republican Party in Washington, DC and the Republican Party of Florida in Tallahassee will continue to target my record and our campaign by sending out misleading press releases as they've done for the past few months.

Republicans have no intention of giving up this critical U.S. Senate seat and their attack machine has already revved up. We will not allow the other side to define us with their negative messaging and your financial help will make all the difference. This campaign will tell our story on our terms and with our narrative. They are not sitting on the sidelines watching how this race unfolds and neither should you.

That is why the $20 for 2010 campaign is so critical. By making a recurring contribution of $20 every month through Election Day, you will be sending a definitive message that we will walk together on this long and winding campaign road from today through victory day.

After years of Democratic gains in Florida, we will not cede an inch of territory to our opponents. Now is the time to build upon our gains by picking up this seat that belongs to Democrats, Independents and fed-up Republicans who want their voices heard in the U.S. Senate.

Websites of the three Democratic candidates can be found in a box on the right-hand column of this blog.

The Florida Democratic Party spokesman, Eric Jotkoff, pointed out that Rubio led the way in turning budget grants to state universities into lucrative part-time posts for himself – the sort of trick that cost Ray Sansom his post as speaker of the House.

Jotkoff also said that Rubio is in the Rush Limbaugh wing of the Republicans. Ugh is the last part of Rush’s name, and that’s my reaction to his voice, though I feel duty-bound to keep listening to know where he’s leading his dittoheads.

Jotkoff's statement:

"At a time when Florida needs real leadership, Marco Rubio is just following George W. Bush and Republicans in Washington, offering only more of the same stale politics and failed polices.

"In announcing his candidacy, Rubio made it clear that his entire agenda if elected is to just say no - no to President Obama's efforts to jumpstart Florida's economy and create jobs, no to allowing Cuban-Americans to visit their families, and no to any solutions aimed at solving the many problems facing the Sunshine State and our nation.

"While Rubio has recently joined the Rush Limbaugh wing of the Republican Party in just saying no, as the sponsor of the largest sales tax increase in Florida's history, Rubio's recent rhetoric on taxes doesn't fit his record.

"Rubio is the Godfather of Tallahassee's Republican culture of corruption. As disgraced former Speaker Ray Sansom's mentor, Rubio taught Sansom how to personally benefit from bringing home the bacon. After delivering millions of tax dollars for Florida International University, Rubio turned around and got a $69,000 per year part-time job at the school... sound familiar?

Unfortunately, that is only the tip of the iceberg to Rubio's ethics problems. As Speaker, Rubio was involved in countless ethics scandals revolving around sweetheart mortgages, legislative favors for big donors, highway contracts, and other shady dealings.

"Democrats are organized and energized to bring change to Florida in 2010. We look forward to a strong Democrat winning this Senate seat to help implement President Barack Obama vision of change and join Sen. Bill Nelson in representing Florida in the tradition of Bob Graham and Lawton Chiles."
And here’s a snip on Vern Buchanan from the political blog of the Herald Tribune written by Jeremy Wallace:

Don’t expect to hear much from U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan about running for the Senate or for governor until after May 10.

Buchanan, R-Longboat Key, told me earlier today that he is hearing Gov. Charlie Crist could make a decision around that day. Buchanan is among a group of Republicans said to be in the mix to run for either the U.S. Senate or for governor depending on what Crist runs for.

If Crist runs for re-election, Buchanan would be in the mix to run for the Senate. If Crist runs for the Senate, Buchanan said he is being encouraged by some supporters to run for governor.


Luis C. Isaza E said...

The thought of any more Florida Republicans in Congress is enough to make any thoughtful Democrat have a sudden attack of what will probably feel like “swine-flu”.
The question is whether we Democrats are prepared to do the necessary work to win the senatorial race, and not give the “Limbaugh boys” a chance to continue the kind of policies they have implemented in the State with the unacceptable results that we are all seeing.

I believe that we Democrats in Florida and Miami-Dade should not feel very proud of our accomplishments. Our victory and political achievement is the result of two very clear historical events: the catastrophic failure of the Republican Party who gave such preeminence to the voice of the extreme right in their constituency, and the unbelievable triumph of one person, called Obama.

Now, the first thing that we hear from our potential candidates is not any particular strategy or plan that may ensure the success in putting a democrat in the seat of Mel Martinez, but the same old criticism of the party of “NO” and requests for “donations”, as if just making donations would ensure our victory. Did we learn anything from the past candidacy of Raul Martinez, Joe Garcia, and Annette Tadeo?

It is time for the Miami Democratic Party to assume the leadership and the responsibility in planning winning strategies and in directing the efforts of the registered voters to get our candidates elected. The best thing the leadership can do to ensure success, is to take into account what the voters think and what they can do for the party. It seems to me that just asking for donations and/or criticizing the extreme right of the Republican Party is not the right strategy for democrats.

Larry Thorson said...

Thanks for your thoughts, Luis. I think a lot of us are ready to do the necessary work you call for. One large group is working to end gerrymandering so that the state legislature and congressional districts will better reflect the views of Floridians. To get started with them, check out fairdistrictsflorida.org