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News

Florida Republicans substantially outraising Dems for 2014

Democrats call it business as usual

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It’s an honorable mantra, especially considering the grass-roots buildup the party has publicly achieved by forcing Rick Scott’s face into the polling mud over the past three years, but is it typical Florida Democrat-style wishful thinking? The past year has also seen the party splintering and grumbling over leadership issues, with hardline progressives chafing against establishment Democrats in both the main party operation and its House leadership. Just last month, following a skirmish involving a questionable fundraising strategy, House Democrats renounced their election of Tampa Rep. Daryl Rouson as their 2014-2016 leader and brought in West Palm Beach firebrand Rep. Mark Pafford in his stead. Closer to home, Orange County Democratic Executive Committee chairman – and local tax collector – Scott Randolph’s announcement that he’s stepping down from the party post has stirred up visible discontent from grumpy factions within the local operation. The circular firing squad – at least from the inside-baseball perspective – is alive and well.

For now, all non-diverted eyes are pointed in the direction of Pinellas County, where 82-year-old U.S. Rep C.W. “Bill” Young, R-Indian Shores, will end his 42-year reign as the area’s congressman next year. It should be a prime opportunity for Democrats to test their mettle, especially considering that Young won by a smaller margin last year than he had in decades. But the blue(-ish) name currently being thrown around most vigorously in the race – Charlie Crist – also happens to be the party’s half-hearted hope to retake the Governor’s office. “The story here may ultimately be another reminder of how weak the Democratic bench is in Florida, and even in an increasingly Democratic county like Pinellas,” Tampa Bay Times political editor Adam Smith opined last week. Get it together, Dems!

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