So last week, I raised a question that was on the minds of an increasing number of Democratic voters I was running into: Are Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum’s former Democratic primary rivals going to get out on the campaign trail and stump for him?
It seemed like a rather basic question; but also a strange one given the stakes in this election. A state Democratic party energized by the charismatic Gillum has most supporters — and political observers — truly believing they have a strong chance of retaking the Governor’s Mansion after a 20-year drought. Not only that, of electing the first African-American to statewide office.
I observed that neither former Congresswoman Gwen Graham, West Palm Beach developer Jeff Greene nor former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine had been seen out stumping for Gillum since the early days following his stunning Aug. 28 primary win.
I did mention that Levine stepped up with a press release in defense of Gillum running-mate, Orlando businessman Chris King, over accusations of being anti-Semitic.
Afterwards, former Levine campaign operative Christian Ulvert reached out to let me know that Levine’s done more, and shouldn’t be “lumped in” with the others. Ulvert said that in addition to two private fundraisers, Levine has allowed Gillum’s campaign the use of a few of his former campaign offices around the state.
Noted. Financial support is important to political campaigns these days. Especially when it comes getting the message out via pricey advertising. Very important.
Arguably more important, however, is motivating people to actually vote. (After all, that is how Gillum managed to beat three more well-financed opponents in the primary.)
That’s why we asked in a poll last week: “Should Andrew Gillum’s Democratic primary opponents campaign for him in the general election?”
As of today (Monday), out of some 200 reader votes, about 72 percent gave a resounding “yes.” The post also received nearly 370 Likes on Facebook.
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One of Levine’s private fundraisers for Gillum was with former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. But Bloomberg went further, and actually stumped with Gillum. Following an Oct. 5 event in Coral Springs on behalf of his Everytown for Gun Safety, the possible 2020 presidential candidate appeared in West Palm Beach Oct. 6 at a Democratic Party fundraiser and then with Gillum Oct. 7 at a Century Village Jewish center in Pembroke Pines.
Voters are fickle. That’s why turnout is so crucial. Maybe it won’t matter to Democratic loyalists and crucial No-Party Affiliation (NPA) voters when they don’t see Gillum’s former rivals out on the stump with him, and they will show up at the polls anyway. Maybe.
And if you haven’t taken our poll yet, you can get to it here.
Where has West Palm Beach developer Jeff Greene been since Aug. 28?
Not since a big Kumbaya “unity” rally in Orlando days after Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum’s historic victory in the Democratic primary for Florida governor (minus Greene), has anyone heard from three of Gillum’s primary opponents on the campaign trail.
I mean, one can kind of understand why Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam is not out stumping for Republican primary winner Ron DeSantis. Putnam was practically measuring the drapes in the Governor’s Mansion before the Parkland shooting and President Donald Trump reared his ugly head.
But the Dems always gave off this vibe of being respectful, if not friendly adversaries.
So are they low-key campaigning? Maybe recording robo-calls? Or saving themselves — and their money — for the home stretch?
Gillum, the first African-American to secure a major party gubernatorial nomination in the state’s history, picked Orlando businessman Chris King to be his running mate as lieutenant governor. The two apparently clicked and became “bros” while campaigning during the primary race.
There was less “clicking” with Graham, as the consensus front-runner became the focal point of attacks from her all-male competition. Less so by Gillum’s campaign, but more so by a PAC that supported the mayor and whose negative message he refused to publicly disavow.
Graham, the Post Editorial Board‘s pick to win the Democratic primary because it was felt she had the best shot of winning in the general, may still be smarting too much from those attacks to drop everything and campaign for her former rival. Or maybe Gillum just hasn’t asked.
Levine wasn’t heard from until a few weeks ago, when he stepped forward with a statement defending the Gillum campaign after Republicans looked to paint Gillum as an anti-Semite for bringing on King, who had made anti-Jewish comments when he was a college student. This was first dredged up during the primary campaign and King apologized then.
As for Greene, the question is not whether or not he should be out campaigning but whether he is writing any checks to the Gillum campaign, or any other Florida Democratic election efforts. If he has, it hasn’t been substantial enough to be publicized, a’ la fellow billionaire Tom Steyer. But we should remember that during the primary campaign, Greene — who wanted to radically improve public school education in Florida — did promise to financially support the primary winner and other Democrats.
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So, with time to campaign in a tight gubernatorial race coming down to the wire, one has to wonder whether Florida voters — especially those on her home turf of North Florida — will see Graham out stumping for Gillum to help give the party the best chance it’s had of taking back the Governor’s Mansion in 20 years.
It’s tough to see Gillum pulling off the victory without Graham enthusiastically campaigning for him. The same can be asked about Levine, and Greene’s ample checkbook.
But then, no political expert saw Gillum pulling off the primary upset either.
Take our poll here, and tell us what you think they should do.
Every Florida primary election, thousands of voters from Milton to Marathon vent frustration about heading to the polls (or filling out a mail-in ballot) and once again not being able to vote for the major party candidate.
I understand their frustration. As a registered independent or No Party Affiliation (NPA) voter myself, it’s a little rough feeling like a player who keeps getting left out of the game. But that’s the system we all signed up for here in the Sunshine State.
Florida is one of just 11 states that have strictly “closed primaries” — that is, primaries in which only registered Republicans can vote in the Republican primary, and only registered Democrats in the Democratic primary.
A growing number of Floridians believe state lawmakers should think seriously about joining the 11 states that allow open primaries, in which any voter can cast a ballot in either party’s primary. Or the 24 states that have a mix of rules, with some allowing voters to cross party lines to vote, others that allow unaffiliated voters to participate.
Thought Florida Agricultural Commissioner Adam Putnam would be the best gubernatorial candidate for the Republican Party? Tough.
Thought former Congresswoman Gwen Graham would be the best standard-bearer for the Democrats in the same gubernatorial contest? Too bad.
Or how about voting for your choice of which Democrat or Republican would best represent you in the state House or Senate? Sorry, you’ll have to wait until November.
Not surprising then that an increasing number of Florida voters are losing patience with this current “closed” system that shuts out some 27 percent of registered voters — read that, taxpayers.
That’s more than a quarter of Florida voters who are now choosing to identify as NPA. Why? Because they are tired of major party politics that produce lawmakers doing a poor job of lawmaking. And that’s a trend that many political observers say needs to be addressed.
A couple other factors: the number of registered voters, both Democrat and Republican, who regularly cross party lines during general elections; and the remaining “Dixiecrats” in the state who haven’t voted for a Democrat since Harry S. Truman but don’t bother to change their party affiliation.
Post readers have weighed in this over the past couple of weeks.
… In a situation where one party has an incumbent running while the other party has four or five folks contending for the right to represent their party, it is possible and very likely that people registered with the established candidate’s party will cross over and vote for the least likely candidate of the opposing party.
In Michigan, where there are open primaries, this cross-party voting has taken place on numerous occasions; when there are a number of candidates running for a position, just a few votes can make the difference in who wins the opportunity to represent the party.
By swaying the election in the primary, the opposing party can assure victory in the general election. This is called political shenanigans and has prevented many good candidates from being the choice of their own party…
I felt the pain of the letter writer who attempted to vote in the recently held primaries. I also attempted to vote 20 years ago, as a newly transplanted Florida resident, as an independent. Such an archaic, nonsensical law.
There is good news, however. The organization Florida Fair and Open Primaries is trying to add a constitutional amendment to the election ballot to change Florida primary elections from a closed political party system to a voter-nominated top-two open primary system.
I suggest that you look them up sign their petition then get everyone you know to do the same.
I highly disagree with the letter “NPA voters shut out of primaries” (Tuesday).
Primary elections are “partisan business matters” conducted by the members of Republican and Democratic parties. This is how the main political parties select their slate of candidates for a general election.
If you choose not to be a member of either the Republican Party or the Democratic Party, why do you feel entitled to vote in Republican or Democratic primary elections?
Using religion as an example, why should a rabbi or ordained minister (of any faith) be allowed to have a say as to who will become the next pope of the Roman Catholic Church? The obvious answer is: They can’t; they’re not members of the Roman Catholic Church…
Independent, non-affiliated should not vote in primaries
Many independents and many non-affiliated voters feel they should have the right to vote in the Democratic and Republican primaries. Let me tell them why they don’t and shouldn’t have.
These two organizations are semi-private clubs. Anyone can join the club, but you have to join. I live in Palm Beach County. I can not vote in Miami-Dade County. If I wanted to vote in Miami-Dade, I just have to move to Miami-Dade. No one could stop me, but I would have to move.
Move to where you want to vote. New York, California, Florida, Palm Beach, Miami-Dade or Democratic Party or Republican Party.
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Clearly, this debate isn’t going away.
The two major parties are not going to do anything that dilutes their power and influence. But why should they? As mentioned above, opening their primary makes the process susceptible to bad actors.
Still, as the rolls of NPA voters continues to grow, so do their own power and influence — especially as taxpayers.
And it gets harder for state lawmakers to ignore the cries of, “I want in!”
Tell us what you think by taking our poll, and leaving a comment here.