Florida 13 Could Preview Georgia ’14 Senate

March 13, 2014 8:30 am

by Tim Darnell · 13 comments

Georgia Democrats should be taking Paul Begala’s advice very seriously, right about now.

After Tuesday night’s stunning loss in Florida’s 13th congressional district – a race in which Democrats seemingly had the perfect candidate in the perfect district – President Bill Clinton’s former advisor took to Twitter, writing:

“Dems should not try to spin this loss. We have to redouble our efforts for 2014. Too much at stake.”

democrat-and-republican-symbols-of-a-donkey-and-elephant-facing-off

Florida Democrats were fielding Alex Sink, a former statewide official who put up a decent showing in the Sunshine State’s 2010 gubernatorial race. The GOP candidate? A pinstripe-suited, high-powered lobbyist named David Jolly.

Democrats had money; Sink far outraised Jolly and got $4 mil from outside Democratic groups.

Democrats had the district; a purple-hued swing region that seemed poised to elect a Democrat after more than 40 years of GOP representation.

And Democrats had a Libertarian candidate in the race, usually a phenomenon which siphons more red votes than blue.

Sink portrayed herself as a moderate, promising to bring Republicans and Democrats together. Jolly, however, pushed his opponent to the left while moving himself to the right, winning by more than 3,400 votes using a tactic we’re going to see a lot more of: oppose ObamaCare and anyone who seems remotely for it.

Based on Florida 13′s outcome, Michelle Nunn could be playing right into Republicans’ hand. She’s having to support ObamaCare while equivocating that it needs some tweaking. And she’s portraying herself as a reach-across-the-aisle bridge builder, much like her father did in 24 years in the Senate.

But Sam Nunn served in Washington before the 24-hour news cycle was jammed with partisan commentary from both sides; before real-time blogging in the digital world; before people received the majority of their political news from Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart.

The fact of the matter is, we are moving far beyond the days when a politician can get elected by promising to work with the other side, or by failing to equivocate clearly to the left or right.

Make no mistake: whoever wins the GOP Senate primary will leave no doubt regarding their political leaning, or where they stand. And there is no doubt as to the tactics he or she will use. 

Democrats in Georgia have already raised more money than in recent years using the names “Nunn” and “Carter.” They had best use it very strategically, and very, very wisely. 

griftdrift March 13, 2014 at 9:06 am

Sink is far from the “perfect candidate”. On paper maybe but not in reality. And that’s where the Democrats made their mistake. The game is not played on paper. Which is why otherwise your analogy is spot on. Nobody really knows what kind of candidate Michelle Nunn is. That’s a dangerous bet.

Harry March 13, 2014 at 9:22 am

Oh, we know what kind of candidate Michelle Nunn is: a carbon copy Obama Democrat who is pandering to every Democratic establishment special interest.

Blake March 13, 2014 at 10:06 am

I don’t think Sink was even perfect on paper. What kind of perfect candidate doesn’t live in the district she’s running to represent?

Way too much tea-leaf-reading going on all over the media about this race. All it shows is what we already knew, that the GOP is guaranteed (barring some bizarre, world-shaking event) to hold the House in 2014.

John Sanders March 13, 2014 at 11:14 am

Shocker the media is reading too much into a Special election.

Blake March 13, 2014 at 2:30 pm

ainorite lol

GreyFreeman March 13, 2014 at 3:26 pm

Harry – I get that you don’t like Democrats, but I’m pretty sure that Michelle Nunn will be running far to the right of Obama. This *is* Georgia, after all, and I’m pretty sure she can read a map.

Harry March 13, 2014 at 3:51 pm

If she runs away from Obama she loses or at least disincentivizes some of her base.

Jon Lester March 15, 2014 at 11:49 am

The administration has plenty of time between now and the general election to do something (else) very stupid in the realm of foreign policy, and the way things are going lately, it won’t take much at all to send that base into disarray.

northside101 March 13, 2014 at 9:24 am

Sink’s loss—and the catastrophic losses the Democrats suffered in the US House in 2010— probably had something to do with that famous one liner:

“We had to pass it (Obamacare) in order to know what is in it.”
—Nancy Pelosi

Of course, Ms. Pelosi could get away with such a statement in her far, far-left California district. Not so for many other Democrats who “went down with the ship” four years ago despite the obvious “warning signals” from Scott Brown’s surprise win in the Massachusetts Senate special election that year, and losses in New Jersey and Virginia the previous year in their races for governor, and constituents angry about a massive bill that few ever read. (Have any of the 4 Georgia Democratic congressmen who voted for Obamacare ever admitted to reading the entire bill before voting for it?) Obviously “restraint” was not in Ms. Pelosi’s vocabulary, any more than it was a few years earlier when Bush 2 launched the country into Iraq—which in 2006 led to the Democratic takeover of Congress and paved the way for Obama’s divisive presidency.

Chris Huttman March 13, 2014 at 11:19 pm

Well, when one party will just lie about what’s in the bill even after they’ve read it (see Michigan) what do you expect? The Republicans are playing with long-term fire in order to get these short term gains.

Go ahead and hold the house – run up the score even. I’ll take 8 years of Hillary over trying to win the house this year.

objective March 13, 2014 at 3:02 pm

arguments for and obamacare should remain adaptable, as its implementation remains in flux.
using broad arguments against it will backfire if ppl are just sick of hearing about it.
but specific, current, relevant arguments for or against could make the day.

Harry March 13, 2014 at 3:53 pm

You know, there are such arguments. For example how do you pay for it when just the high risk subsidized are participating.

GreyFreeman March 13, 2014 at 3:23 pm

“… we are moving far beyond the days when a politician can get elected by promising to work with the other side, or by failing to equivocate clearly to the left or right.”

I sincerely hope that you are wrong. If not, then all the grown-ups will continue to retire, and the angry toddlers will throw their tantrums without no restraints, at all.

Really, I *have* to believe you are wrong. if not, what’s the point of considered debate, at all? What’s the point of democracy?

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