March 01, 2016

Dan Gelber: Trump didn't create this movement; Republicans did

via @LearyReports The following is from former Democratic state legislator Dan Gelber:

The "establishment" of the Republican Party is going nuts. Donald Trump is leading a hostile takeover of their party and they — the Koch brothers, Glen Beck, the National Review, George Will and every other self-professed conservative thinker — don't know what do to about it.

First, they ignored him. Then they laughed at him. But now that Trump is on the verge of winning the nomination, the party leaders are frantically trying to upend him. For all their hysteria and shock, no one, especially the leaders of the GOP, should be surprised.

Trump didn't create this movement. They did.

Fifty years ago, when the Democratic Party embraced the civil rights movement, the Republican Party decided to embrace disenchanted southern white voters. The party of Lincoln cravenly adopted a "southern strategy" that gave angry voters a home. They fed their little pitbull puppy red meat every election cycle, continuing the strategy with new, imagined boogeymen. They built a reliable coalition based upon fear and anger.

And it often worked. While their economic policies might be giving everyday folks the shaft, their social rhetoric made them feel good — good and angry.

Well, the pitbull is fully grown, escaped its crate, and is now snarling as it roams throughout the house leaving all the adults cowering in the locked bathroom.

Talk to any one of them, and they righteously proclaim the Republican Party is really about high-minded ideologies like "free enterprise" and "reduced government regulation." Of course, it's a rank fantasy for Republicans to think these are the issues that have defined them on Election Day.

No national election has been won because Republican voters stormed the polls to give insurance companies higher rates, or to make sure utility companies were unconstrained by regulators, or to help hedge fund managers maintain a lower effective tax rate. When push came to shove, the Republican Party has always excited its base (and funded its message) by demonizing immigrants, opposing the progress of minorities, gays and women, making people think the government was taking away their guns, and ensuring that the wealthiest remain so.

Not all Republicans agreed with the strategy, but too many were willing to go along with it.

When preserving power by any means becomes the singular goal of your party, virtue is bound to be replaced with bombast, and thoughtful policies supplanted by callow rhetoric. And don't get me wrong, Trump will be formidable because appealing to the worst instincts in people can sometimes be effective. But at least this election will present clear choices.

So don't blame Donald Trump because more than half your party adores the fear, anger, misogyny, racism and xenophobia he spouts. Don't blame Donald Trump because his adolescent pronouncements and charlatan promises have become your organizing principles.

You know exactly whom to blame.

April 25, 2013

Gelber to Scott: Veto budget if it's absent Medicaid expansion and teacher raises

Former state senator and attorney general candidate, Dan Gelber, has penned a letter to Gov. Rick Scott suggesting that it is his duty to veto the state budget if it fails to include, as expected, any expansion of Medicaid and fails to "adequately fund the salaries of Florida's teachers."

The letter from Gelber, a Miami attorney and advisor to former Gov. Charlie Crist, reads like the potential talking points of a Crist candidacy. Crist, a former Republican turned Democrat, continues to indicate he is exploring a potential challenge to Scott in 2014. 

"I urge you to inform the Florida Legislature that you intend to veto the 2013-2014 General Appropriations Act if the budget fails to expand Medicaid, and does not adequately fund the salaries of Florida's teachers,'' Gelber wrote in the letter sent today. 

Continue reading "Gelber to Scott: Veto budget if it's absent Medicaid expansion and teacher raises" »

November 01, 2012

Former Miami Beach state senator asks Gov. Rick Scott to extend early-voting hours

Former state Sen. Dan Gelber sent Florida Gov. Rick Scott a letter Thursday formally asking the state to extend early-voting hours in Miami-Dade County across the state**, where long lines have kept some voters waiting six hours to cast their ballots. Others have been turned away by police officers because there is not enough parking.

Gelber, a Miami Beach Democrat who lost a bid for attorney general two years ago, is asking Scott to expand the early-voting period, which ends at 7 p.m. Saturday, to include Sunday -- a day when heavily Democratic African-American voters had in the past held "souls to the polls" rallies. Some churches held those rallies last Sunday instead.

"In parts of Florida many citizens – including veterans and seniors – have had to to wait for as many as 5 hours to simply express the most fundamental right guaranteed to them in a democracy," Gelber wrote in the letter. "In my own City of Miami Beach, an elderly African American women passed out in front of city hall over the weekend after waiting in excess of an hour in the hot sun. An ambulance took her away. 

"Is that what you envisioned when you and the Legislature lengthened the ballot and shortened early voting? Election supervisors across the state report long lines continuing – in my county of Miami-Dade each day of Early Voting has seen more voters and longer lines than the day before."

Gelber's request was later echoed by the Florida Democratic Party.

The governor signed a law last year cutting early voting days from 14 to eight and eliminated early voting on the Sunday before Election Day, though the law guaranteed a Sunday of early voting. The law caps access at 12 hours daily, and a cumulative total of 96 hours. In 2008, voters had a cumulative 120 hours thanks to Crist’s executive order.

Democrats tend to favor early voting, and Republicans tend to favor voting absentee.

"We've been getting very positive reports from supervisors of elections around the state" about early voting, Chris Cate, a spokesman for Florida's elections division, said Wednesday.

Gelber noted that Scott's predecessors, Govs. Charlie Crist and Jeb Bush, extended voting hours (Bush extended voting hours in a 2002 primary election several counties, including Miami-Dade and Broward, after widespread problems). Crist appeared at least one Miami-Dade early voting site Wednesday and urged Scott to extend the hours or expand early voting to include Sunday and/or Monday. Election Day is Tuesday.

Continue reading "Former Miami Beach state senator asks Gov. Rick Scott to extend early-voting hours" »

November 03, 2010

Ice Cream for Max Gelber

Miami Beach homeboy Dan Gelber was remarkably lighthearted in defeat Tuesday night, when he faced about 250 sad supporters at the city's golf club off Alton Road.

The Democratic candidate for state attorney general had just phoned Republican winner Pam Bondi to wish her well.

Then Gelber spoke to the crowd about the start of his campaign over a year ago, recalling this exchange with his young son, Max.

"Daddy, if you win, can we get ice cream?" Max asked him.

"Yes, of course,'' Gelber responded.

Max paused and asked: "If you lose, can we get ice cream?''

Gelber nodded "yes," and his son smiled.

"I really like campaigns!'' Max said.

Gelber, standing at a podium with his wife, Joan, and their three children, went on to thank his family, campaign staff and supporters -- before calling it a night.

"Enough," said Gelber. "It's time for Max to get his ice cream.''




October 29, 2010

Gelber's wife: He's a mensch

Democratic AG candidate Dan Gelber's wife, Joan, is coming to his defense in an e-mail that criticizes attack ads that are criticizing Gelber as "toxic to Jewish education." The Herald and other papers today detailed ties between the group sending the flyers and Gelber's Republican opponent, Pam Bondi.

"Over the last week my young children have come home from school each afternoon worried that another mailer arrived with a picture of their father in a 'Wanted' poster," Gelber writes. "Our 6 year old asks why people are saying such bad things about his Daddy. I recognize politics is a contact sport, but frankly I’m tired with the utter lack of decency.  Now that it’s been confirmed that Ms. Bondi is connected with these vile mailers I’m asking you to let her know that truth matters and that wanting something badly doesn’t mean you can do anything to get it. These are lessons my husband and I proudly teach our children – and lessons we need to teach Ms. Bondi." 

October 28, 2010

Gelber defended against "toxic to Jewish education" attack

Powerful lawyers accustomed to throwing their weight around the courtroom have condemned an attack ad saying Dan Gelber, Democratic candidate for attorney general, is "toxic to Jewish education.''

The lawyers argue that the mailer, sent recently to Jewish voters in South Florida, was funded by an anonymous group that supports Gelber's Republican opponent, Pam Bondi.

Bondi, incidentally, supports taxpayer-funded education vouchers for private schools. Gelber does not.

The mailer was paid for by the Committee for Florida's Education, Inc., which describes itself as a newly formed coalition of Jewish advocates. It has targeted not only Gelber, a Jewish state senator from Miami Beach, but also Alex Sink, Democratic candidate for governor, and Loranne Ausley, Democratic candidate for chief financial officer.

The group's complaint: All three Democrats don't support the state scholarship program for children who want to attend religious schools, especially in Jewish communities. Gelber's legal allies said in a letter that the mailer contains "blatant falsehoods.''

"The most inflammatory claims deal with Senator Gelber's call for investigations of how voucher money was being spent,'' states the letter, penned by former South Florida federal prosecutor Bruce Udolf. "The truth?  Senator Gelber expressed deep concern that one school receiving voucher money, the Islamic Academy of Florida, sent $350,000 overseas to fund terrorist activity.''

The letter was signed by 100 high-profile South Floridian members of the Jewish faith, including U.S. Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz and former Congressman Robert Wexler.

A spokeswoman for Bondi's campaign said it was not behind the attack ad. "Our campaign had nothing to do with this flyer,'' Kim Kirtley said.



October 27, 2010

October 25, 2010

Florida's attorney general candidates disagree -- on just about everything

In the cozy confines of a cable TV studio, Pam Bondi and Dan Gelber exchanged light banter, but when the lights went on the tone changed dramatically.

So it goes for the candidates for Florida attorney general, who disagree on just about everything from President Obama's healthcare plan to restoring civil rights for former felons.

Bondi, 44, a Republican from Tampa, and Gelber, 49, a Miami Beach Democrat, both served as prosecutors, and each has tried to outdo the other in talking tough about chasing down crooks.

She worked for nearly two decades in the Hillsborough state attorney's office and he worked for a decade in the U.S. attorney's office in Miami.

Beyond that, the two lawyers have little in common, and they likely would bring very different styles and priorities to the state's largest law firm. More here.


October 11, 2010

UPDATE: Democratic boosters greet President Obama at the airport

Republicans say candidates are keeping their distance from President Barack Obama -- but a handful in South Florida greeted him at Miami International Airport.

On hand, Rep. Kendrick Meek -- whose campaign got a radio shout-out today from Obama, along with Reps. Ted Deutch and Debbie Wasserman Schultz, congressional hopeful Joe Garcia and Democratic Attorney General candidate Dan Gelber. The White House pool report notes it was a "kiss on the cheek" for Wasserman Schultz and a handshake for Meek. Democratic gubernatorial candidate Alex Sink was not present -- a campaign spokeswoman said last week that Sink would be in Tampa today. The pool notes that after working the line of greeters, POTUS ran across the tarmac to greet a crowd of cheering onlookers behind a barrier.



October 06, 2010