One of the people who comments regularly on this blog lately harps on this, and an attendee at this week’s Plantation Democratic Club appearance by Nan Rich also raised the issue: how can she possibly win when Charlie Crist is starting out with more name recognition and is attracting more press and more money. Worse, Gov. Rick Scott for all his negatives, is rolling in corporate campaign cash — more than any Democrat is likely to match.
There’s no question that this is a problem, not only for Nan Rich but for Democracy. Yet I hate to see Dems making some kind of realpolitik calculation that Crist is the candidate to support because he has more money. There is also a self-fulfilling prophecy at work here, where money follows money and press follows press.
Nan Rich is a former state legislator, who most recently served as Minority Leader in the Senate — which means she is used to working against the odds. She readily agreed that she can’t win on the strength of a grassroots campaign alone — she needs supporters to donate to her campaign as well. She needs to capture the imagination and attention of enough supporters who are willing to write checks as well as volunteer that she narrows the money gap and can start to gain ground.
But she also says that as she travels around the state, she hears a lot of people talking about the way Rick Scott got into office in the first place:
“They say, He bought it — and you know what, we’re not going to let anyone buy it again. And that goes for Charlie Crist, too.” – Nan Rich
I don’t want to beat up on Crist too much — if he is the nominee, of course I will support him over Rick Scott. But my fear is that he will win a Democratic primary only to fade fast in the general election, based on all the contradictions in his past. As Nan told the Plantation Democrats, one of the reasons we need a Democratic governor is to restore or maintain balance on the State Supreme Court — and one of the reasons we have to be worried is because of the right wing justices Crist appointed during his time in office. Some of the Democratic legislators who served with Crist liked him because he could be so much more reasonable and willing to bend than his predecessor, Jeb Bush. But even when he did the right thing, it was always hard to know whether he did it for the right reason or out of pure political calculation. The trouble is, he was equally willing to bend to pressure from the right when that was to his political advantage.
On the other hand, there were many times when Crist did do the right thing for whatever reason, leaving us wondering why he stuck with the Republican party for so long. I’d like to hope that, if he does become our nominee, we will see him behave more consistently and convince us of his ability to do the right thing for the right reason.
Yet why not choose a candidate who has been standing up for Democratic principles all along? Nan Rich was often in the position of trying to stop bad legislation brought forth under both the Crist and Scott administrations to privatize prisons and schools or limit a woman’s reproductive rights. With a veto pen in her hand, she could do that even more effectively — and maybe even start to push the state forward.
What impresses me most about Nan Rich is how hard she is working at this campaign. Crist can afford to coast along with a sense of entitlement. Nan knows she has to fight for the nomination. She has been crisscrossing the state, spending as much time in rural areas of the state that rarely see a Democratic candidate as she is in Broward. Her theory is that she will need supporters in those places later in the game, when she really does have to concentrate her energies in Democratic strongholds like Broward. She also needs people in all those places who will write into the local paper and make some noise when articles talk about a race between Crist and Scott, forgetting to even mention her.
“Grassroots is not the only thing that’s important, but I think it’s more important than most people realize at this stage,” she said.
Find out more at www.nanrich2014.com
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