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U.S. Senate candidate Pam Keith stands out with speech to Florida Democrats (but still faces long odds)



LAKE BUENA VISTA -- Pam Keith isn't well-known -- but at least some Florida Democrats are aware of her now after a rousing speech she gave tonight at the state party convention in Orlando.

Keith, an attorney from North Palm Beach, is competing against Democratic U.S. Reps. Alan Grayson, of Orlando, and Patrick Murphy, of Jupiter, in the party primary for the 2016 U.S. Senate race.

She lacks the name recognition and fundraising sources that Murphy and Grayson have, but she managed to draw a more enthusiastic reaction from Florida Democrats Saturday night than either of her opponents.

The three candidates were among a line-up of speakers who addressed about 900 Democrats gathered for the final dinner of this year's state party convention, held at Disney's Yacht & Beach Club Convention Center in Orlando.

Both Grayson and Murphy gave routine speeches, detailing how they got into politics and discussing a few key issues that are important to them, while attracting applause at expectable times. 

From her introduction, Keith struck a more animated tone. "I could use this time to talk about myself - but I’m not," she said, seeming to take a jab at Grayson who had just left the stage.

Keith talked more about her political philosophy, offering criticism to both major parties. She said the Democratic Party should listen to the frustration of voters who are declaring themselves "'no-party affiliation" because they're fed up with establishment-driven politics.

"We do ourselves no favors when we ignore them," Keith said. "More and more people are stepping back and wondering why so much is happening in Washington but so little in Washington has changed."

She encouraged the party to remember its platform and promote itself as a party that will support people in need.

"We are the party that has always stood in the gap for those who have been disenfranchised, marginalized and discriminated against," she said to cheers and applause. "We will stand up for them."

Keith faces long odds at winning the party primary, because most Florida Democrats -- let alone Florida voters -- have never heard of her.

With the primary election 10 months away, the Democratic establishment is already rallying around Murphy with both endorsements and campaign contributions, while Grayson is earning support from the progressive base and grassroots donors.

Keith had just $5,600 in her campaign fund, as of Sept. 30 -- compared to $250,000 for Grayson and $3.5 million for Murphy. So far in the Democratic race, Murphy has raised $4.2 million, Grayson has raised $1.1 million and Keith has raised $53,000.

Photo credit: @FlaDems