Nan Rich Needs Grassroots (And Money, Too) In Governor’s Race

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.

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Author: David F. Carr

BlueBroward webmaster

9 thoughts on “Nan Rich Needs Grassroots (And Money, Too) In Governor’s Race”

  1. Interesting post, David.

    I love Nan. I met her in 2008 at a surrogate event for then-Senator Obama by California Semator Barbara Boxer at Inverrary in Lauderdale Lakes. I had heard through my case managers & advocates in foster care that she had been a strong fighter on foster care issues for years. So I thanked her and we chatted about the system. Saw her again & spoke on GLBT issues at the Equality for All gala in 2011. I was proud to see her launch her campaign this cycle and was glad to get a chance to talk again at last year’s Convention in Hollywood.

    Nan’s been a legislative bulwark & a great public official all her years in office. I hope that she escapes this primary with more people knowing & loving her as a public figure like I have learned to over the years.

    But Nan can’t win. She has a strong background as a Democrat and Progressive, yes. But Progressive Democrats unfortunately aren’t the base a Democrat beeds tk regain the Governor’s mansion after over a decade of Republican control. Nan is well-known here in Broward & to a smaller extent in the tri-county area generally. But she has generated no excitement no news stories, no bold policy ideas or pres conferences covered by local or national media.

    In a more perfect world we’d be talking about Florida’s first female & Jewish Governor with excitement & pride. Politico would have been calling Rick Scott likely to go down thanks to a feisty grandma from Broward willing to talk tough on the issues & gaining grassroots support & donations from women’s groups, large checks from wealthy Jewish bases of support & proving a strong challenge to a man with a billion dollars & Florida’s monied establishment party behind her.

    But we’re not talking about that. Instead I am getting invites to ‘Like’ Pages created by a single volunteer that fake grassroots support in every Florida county despite all of the pages being created by a single elderly liberal Broward volunteer. Yes, she has been doing an amazing job of getting out there around the state, but what has she got to show for it? Working class Tampa or St. Petersburg or Tallahassee or Jacksonville voters aren’t attending Democratic Clubs in droves. They won’t ever hear about her let alone cast two ballots for her over well-known, well-financed candidates who have won statewide elections & ran huge ad campaigns for the past 5 years in case of Scott or decades in the case of Crist.

    Nan rocks. She really does. As a person, a public official of outstanding integrity & the right policy know-how. But Charlie Crist has a history of evolving in favor of the people. Why he got the moniker “the People’s Governor” because he moderated in office on issues like abortion & education when the grassroots students & teachers of this state staged walkouts (and including me) made posters & email & phone bombs to his office urging him to change his mind.

    Charlie Crist listens & he has learned. We need a strong gubernatorial candidate who can expand the party & get the independents & moderate Republicans that were his base into the Big Blue Tent of the Florida Democrtic Party.

    That’s why I join former Miami State Senator & 2010 Attorney General candidate Dan Gelber in backing Charlie Crist. Because as Crist said on October 15th introducing President Obama in Holluwood, we need to move Florida “Forward, Not Back.” And that means a stronger wider Democratic Party.

  2. Oh, Douglas, so many Democrats are drinking the koolAid. Everything that you’ve said about Nan Rich reflects EXACTLY what Florida needs in the governor’s office,, yet, you’re following the money. Florida Democrats do not have to go back through years and years of public statements, private conversations, and legislative action to see where NAN RICH stands. She stands for, and always has, women, children, the GLBT Community, background checks for all gun purchases, elimination, or reducing, subsidies for big business, education, universal Pre-K. I could go on and on.

    Charlie Crist hasn’t “evolved” in favor of the people. Charlie evolves in favor of Charlie. Do you think that “Chain Gang Charlie has changed his spots? Fat Chance. Broward County alone could elect Nan Rich as governor. Unfortunately, folks are flocking to Charlie…most are former electeds, perhaps looking for a cushy Tallahassee job, (Dan Gelber is not in this category).

    You may only be seeing ONE grassroots person posting about supporting NAN RICH, however, there are many, many supporters, not only in Broward, but throughout the state. I will support the Democratic nominee for governor. I think that it’s going to be NAN RICH.

  3. I know some people, including many I respect, are sincere Charlie Crist fans. I just think it would be easier to draw a clear contrast with Rick Scott if our nominee is Nan Rich rather than a former Republican governor.

  4. WOW…. The definitive discussion on Florida’s gubernatorial race. This is a must read. AS the elderly Nan supporter mentioned in previous comments I will keep my powder dry.”I have just begun to fight.” My plans are very big. Stay tuned. History is made one day at a time. Nan Rich is the “The Choice”

  5. There are many many friends of mine who are planning on supporting Nan. Joe, you are one of them & I appreciate the time you took to discuss this with me last year. But I’m not “following”anything – money, other people or otherwise. I am making an educated & pragmatic argument in favor of who I think would be the better nominee. Not my ideal nominee, but the one I plan on voting for.

    David, you are right that there is a clearer contrast between Nan and Governor Scott than there is between him & Charlie’s tenure as a Republican Governor. But there has been a calculated & (I would day) sincere part on Charlie’s part to move back to his environmental left coast moderate sensibilities. The choice will be very clear come November because either Democrat would be the underdog to Scott’s billion.

  6. Douglas, Please keep in mind that there are 7 months until the primary and an additional 3 months until the general election. A lot can happen between now and then, and trust me it will. <> Margaret Mead

  7. Douglas, Please keep in mind that there are 7 months until the primary and an additional 3 months until the general election. A lot can happen between now and then, and trust me it will. Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can
    change the world; indeed it’s the only thing that ever has. Margaret Mead

  8. I saw Charlie Crist on at least 6 different national new shows this past week. Let us all rally around him now.

  9. I am trying to find out how much money MS Rich has collected in the last quarter of 2013. Any help please. She raised just about $600.00 a day in the 3rd quarter of 2013. That has been reported in the papers. Money DOES count in politics. It buys TV ads. It pays for flights all over the state. It pays for the rent and utilities of dozens of store front campaign offices. It pays for the pizza and soda for unpaid volunteers. Yes money does count and is needed. Being a dedicated and TRUE Democrat (HA!)is NOT enough to win. Wake up America!

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