Florida Gov’t Weekly Roundup: Parties Are Over; Real Politics Begin Now

July 31, 2016

The intramural infighting is finally over. For some, the close of the Democratic National Convention this week, following on the heels of the Republican Party’s spectacle, marks the true advent of the presidential campaign season, where, once again, Florida will be front-and-center in the race for the White House.

Appearing onstage Thursday night, Democrat Hillary Clinton made history as the country’s first female presidential nominee. No wonder, then, that the convention was situated in the City of Brotherly Love, just steps away from the home of flag-sewer Betsy Ross and amidst a cornucopia of monuments demarcating the birth of a nation united against tyranny.

http://www.northescambia.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/floridaweeklly.jpgBut the Democrats’ love-fest wasn’t all sunshine and roses. Clinton wrapped up the political pageantry Thursday with an hour-long speech calling for unity, days after her party’s chief was forced out over leaked emails that came as no surprise to Clinton’s onetime opponent, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.

And, juxtaposed against the Philadelphia fanfare, Florida Democratic Congressman Alan Grayson faced increasing pressure to step away from a U.S. Senate primary after his ex-wife accused him of years of domestic abuse.

Without doubt the concatenation of events involving U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who stepped down as Democratic National Committee chairwoman over the weekend, and Grayson may have pricked a pin in the Democratic party bubble.

But the Dems’ overarching theme, a call-to-arms to defeat GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump that was punctuated throughout the four-day event, reflected a sentiment perhaps best expressed by Philadelphia icon Benjamin Franklin, who might be forgiven for the Old World phrasing.

“We must hang together, gentlemen … else, we shall most assuredly hang separately,” Franklin, the inventor, philosopher and statesman said.

UNITED WE STAND

After two fractious weeks in Cleveland and Philadelphia, the final night of the Democratic convention Thursday strove for unity that has eluded both parties, calling on preachers, immigrants and others to vouch for Clinton and to level withering criticism at Trump.

It was a calculated attempt to try to capitalize on one of the most unusual election seasons in recent American history, one overwhelmed by the bombastic personality of Trump, a real-estate mogul who upended the Republican establishment.

Accepting the Democratic nomination Thursday, Clinton spoke for nearly an hour, reminding the audience of her accomplishments in a political career that has spanned a quarter-century as first lady, U.S. senator and secretary of state. Clinton conceded that some voters still feel like they don’t know her.

She laced policy prescriptions with personal anecdotes and criticisms of Trump. At the same time, she tried to cast herself as a candidate of unity in a divided America.

“I will be a president for Democrats, Republicans, independents; for the struggling, the striving, the successful; for all those who vote for me and for those who don’t — for all Americans,” she said.

Doubts about Trump were also on display in some of Thursday evening’s most theatrical moments. Through the final day of the convention, Clinton’s campaign tried to balance promoting a progressive message that would appeal to Sanders’ supporters with inching onto Republican turf left open by the unconventional campaign of Trump.

Retired generals and Republicans, including a former official in the administration of President Ronald Reagan, a conservative icon, hammered away at Trump’s proposals and called for the country to unite around Clinton. That amplified a speech Wednesday night by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who has spent parts of his life as a Republican, Democrat and independent.

Democrats clearly hoped that message would contrast with the Republican National Convention, which featured vivid displays of a rift within the party and a hard-edged take on Clinton.

But for all the efforts to promote the idea of unity in Philadelphia, delegates to the convention didn’t deny that there were still divisions in the party — at least in the hours before Clinton’s speech. A small number of Sanders delegates were still wary of the nominee, supporters of both candidates said.

Protests and chants by Sanders supporters were audible almost from the beginning of the convention and continued through Clinton’s speech, though it wasn’t clear how many of the attempted interruptions Thursday night came from dissatisfied Sanders voters.

Some Sanders delegates staged a walkout Tuesday to demonstrate their unhappiness with Clinton’s nomination and the primary process that led to it.

“There’s still bitterness, and people have not come to the table,” said Florida state Sen. Audrey Gibson, a Jacksonville Democrat who supported Clinton. “I think it’s a small minority. … It’s not going to keep Hillary from winning the election.”

SUNSHINE STATE HOME-GIRL HECKLED

Four years after the 2012 party convention marked a highlight of Wasserman Schultz’s career, this year’s gathering proved to be a low point, with the Florida congresswoman stepping down as party chairwoman, getting booed in front of her home-state delegation and being pushed off the convention stage entirely.

Wasserman Schultz, a former state legislator from Weston, was tripped up after leaked internal party emails raised questions about her impartiality in the presidential primary between Clinton and Sanders. The emails are believed to have been obtained by Russian hackers.

At a breakfast meeting of the Florida delegation on Monday, some Sanders supporters shouted “Shame on you!” at Wasserman Schultz, while her supporters chanted her first name. The congresswoman tried to put a brave face on the intense interest surrounding her decision to resign as party chair, reportedly under pressure.

“I can see there’s a little bit of interest in my being here,” she said. “I appreciate that interest. And a little bit of interest from the press. But that really shows you that Florida is the most significant battleground state that will make sure that Hillary Clinton is elected president of the United States.”

Supporters of Sanders, who had been a political independent before deciding to seek the Democratic presidential nomination, believed even before the emails were released that Wasserman Schultz was unfairly supporting Clinton.

“I was shocked that Congresswoman Schultz showed up,” said Miguel Valdez, a delegate for Sanders from Florida’s 5th Congressional District. “I had thought that she would have thought better of it, but she did not.”

After the raucous appearance at the Florida breakfast, Wasserman Schultz backed off plans to gavel the convention into order Monday, apparently in an attempt to avoid a repeat of the scene. Wasserman Schultz is facing what could be a tough primary in her congressional re-election race.

In the immediate aftermath of Wasserman Schultz’s resignation as party chairwoman, Florida delegates and officials assessed the fallout.

Former Gov. and U.S. Sen. Bob Graham said the loss of a party chair would not affect Florida’s profile given the state’s outsized role in presidential elections.

“I think that Florida is so important as the biggest swing state in the country … that I don’t think it will ever be characterized as anything other than a superstate for American politics,” Graham said.

PROGRESSIVES TURN ON LIBERAL FIREBRAND GRAYSON

While thousands of Democrats rallied in Philadelphia during the party convention, Grayson — in a heated U.S. Senate primary battle against fellow Florida Congressman Patrick Murphy — was fending off domestic-abuse allegations by his ex-wife.

A Politico story about the allegations appeared to rock Grayson’s campaign, leading, for example, to two progressive groups withdrawing their endorsements of Grayson, a longtime favorite of liberals. Democracy for America and the Progressive Change Campaign Committee said in a joint release the decision was a first for both groups.

Grayson’s ex-wife, Lolita, provided Politico two decades of records to help craft a narrative alleging domestic abuse. Alan Grayson’s attorney, Mark NeJame, told WFME in Orlando that the allegations, released “on the eve of an election” were “politically motivated.”

After the allegations emerged, Grayson drew more attention because of a videotaped run-in with a Politico reporter following a Politico-hosted event Tuesday in Philadelphia.

The reporter, Edward-Isaac Dovere, had tried to stop Grayson in an attempt to get a comment on the ex-wife’s allegations.

In one video, Grayson — as he attempted to exit the event — told the reporter, “You’re getting in my way, my friend. You’re assaulting a member of Congress.”

As a number of reporters taped the encounter, Grayson threatened to hand video to Capitol police.

When asked if he was going to accuse a reporter of assault for asking a question, Grayson responded: “No, not for asking me questions, but for getting in my face and being a fool and pushing me as I am trying to leave this event.”

Grayson spokesman David Damron later released a statement contending the reporter had been advised to contact the congressman’s staff for comment.

Dovere responded in a tweet late Tuesday that “Grayson is lying: he never told me to contact staff. I have the tape!”

STORY OF THE WEEK: Democrat Hillary Clinton became the first woman in U.S. history to receive the presidential nomination of a major political party.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “Let me ask you: Have you even read the United States Constitution? I will gladly lend you my copy. … You have sacrificed nothing and no one.” — Khizr Khan, a father of a soldier who died in Iraq, blasting GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump for the Republican’s proposed temporary ban on immigration by Muslims like Khan.

by Dara Kam, The News Service of Florida

Comments

One Response to “Florida Gov’t Weekly Roundup: Parties Are Over; Real Politics Begin Now”

  1. Ponderosa hill on August 1st, 2016 3:54 am

    It looks like “the news service of Florida” has finally found a writer that’s destined to be a “star”. Dara Kam just wrote a beautiful non-influencing account of what her assigned task was. No attempt to make any of the “Parties” or “Participants” appear to be better/worse than they are……. (based on her own political leanings) What a breath of fresh air ! A nice read by a very fair & balanced writer. Hoo-Rah !





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