In last year’s elections, Florida Democrats lost big at the ballot box - -and 2015 hasn’t been any better for them.
Some Democratic pundits are spinning the Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown’s loss as the result of a race with a poor campaign. But, Democrats have not been faring well In local races this year, even in their backyard.
Even where Democrats outnumber Republicans, the party has suffered some losses. Earlier this year, five-term incumbent Miramar Mayor Democrat Lori Moseley only received 34 percent of the vote in a three-way race and lost her re-election bid -- a major upset in a town where Democrats make up 58 percent of registered voters.
In Plantation, where the Democrats outnumber Republicans 48 percent to 26 percent, Democrat Mayor Diane Veltri Bendekovic barely squeaked out a win with 52 percent over Republican rival Jerry Fadgen. Not good in an area where President Barack Obama took 67 percent in 2012.
Over in Palm Beach County, Delray Beach Mayor Cary Glickstein, a Democrat, won re-election with only 53 percent of the vote. Obama took 58 percent there in 2012 while former Gov. Charlie Crist garnered 59 percent there against Gov. Rick Scott last year.
Political strategist Mark Zubaly offered his take on why Democrats are struggling. Zubaly runs Southern Campaign Resources, a political consulting company based in Tallahassee.
“Democrats don’t seem to be energized as of lately,” Zubaly said.
“Sure, Democrats are still winning in South Florida, but their wins (as a percentage) are on the decline and they’re not winning with the numbers that they used to,” Zubaly added, noting the GOP is catching up with the Democrats on bringing out their base.
At the end of April, Democrats had an opportunity to make some political hay as the GOP-led Florida House decided to end session early. Democrats saw an opportunity to embarrass the Republicans, taking the matter to the state Supreme Court.
The Florida Democratic Party released mailers and robocalls targeting GOP incumbents in swing districts, attacking them for not passing Medicaid expansion and leaving before session ended. With all the negative publicity against the Republicans, several Democratic strategists thought this boosted Brown’s chances. But not only did Brown lose, the GOP picked up a seat on the City Council.
Last week on Rhett Palmer’s talk show on 1370 AM and 107.9 FM in Vero Beach, Democratic strategist and political commentator Al Yorston was asked about Brown’s loss and other Democratic struggles across Florida.
“The bottom line is, the Florida Democratic Party is broken,” Yorston said. “And it’s sad to say the only thing they brag about and have going for them is a soon-to-be-retiring Sen. Bill Nelson.
“Democrats win in presidential years and then, in the off years, they’re lazy and they don’t go out and vote,” Yorston added.
Ed Dean, a senior editor with SSN whose talk-show can be heard on radio stations across Florida, can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter: @eddeanradio.