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From possible juggernaut to punchline of joke, Florida Democrats struggle


With a 500,000 edge in registered voters and a victory by President Barack Obama’s well-organized campaign in the state, the Florida Democratic Party had all the makings of a possible political juggernaut at the start of the year.

Last week, however, it looked like a joke.

The party’s Florida Chief Financial Officer candidate, Allie Braswell, withdrew Monday just days after announcing his bid. Braswell quit after Jacksonville’s Florida Times-Union reported he had a few bankruptcies in his past — a damaging bit of history for someone running to manage the finances of the fourth most-populous state in the nation.

“The bright spotlight of a statewide campaign has cast the ups and downs of my life into harsh relief, and I now know that this campaign is not the way I was meant to serve my community,” Braswell said in a written statement.

“Running statewide is a daunting challenge for any candidate,” he said, “as a political outsider, I have now learned that I underestimated how my campaign would affect those I care about most.”

Aside from highlighting the tactical ball-dropping by the Florida Democratic Party (didn’t they vet him or prepare him for all of this?), Braswell’s candidacy underscores Democrats’ troubles more broadly.

The same goes for Thaddeus Hamilton, who got 2 percent of the vote running for Agriculture and Consumer Services Commissioner in 2010 as an independent. He is now running for the same spot as a Democrat.

The fact that the party has to rely on two political novices to run for a Florida Cabinet seat is a leading indicator of the vicious cycle of missed opportunities that Democrats have spun in for years.

There are now four Democrats vying to beat Gov. Rick Scott: former state Sen. Nan Rich, Ryan Adam Lipner, Marcelle Martelly, and Jessica Lana Stewart. Only Rich has political experience in Tallahassee, but she’s such an unknown that polls show the unpopular incumbent would still likely win.

Rest of column here