Monday, February 26, 2024


I'm usually wary of news stories that read like press releases, but this Daily Beast story about former Florida congresswoman Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, who's running to defeat Senator Rick Scott this year, has me eager to smoke some hopium.

As the story points out, Scott seems beatable:
A November 2023 survey from right-leaning polling firm Cygnal showed only 35 percent of Floridians have a favorable view of Scott—less than both Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Gov. Ron DeSantis.
And he's not an inherently appealing person:
During Scott’s eight years as Florida governor and five years in the Senate, he’s cultivated a reputation as a staunch conservative who has trouble making friends on Capitol Hill—an advocate for the rich and an enemy of the poor. Basically, he’s the perfect Republican boogeyman for Democrats to bash on the campaign trail.

Influential Florida Democratic donor John Morgan—founder of the Morgan & Morgan law firm—put his assessment of Scott bluntly.

“He looks bad. He looks like an alien that has just landed here with ET. He’s not a prototypical candidate. He’s very awkward,” Morgan said.
Mucarsel-Powell intends to run against him on issues:
To start, she’s hitting Scott for his hardline stances on abortion. Scott said if he were still governor, he would have enshrined a six-week abortion ban. He has also signaled openness to “reasonable” federal abortion restrictions....

The very first line in Mucarsel-Powell’s campaign launch video was a shot at Scott and his abortion stance: “He would strip away women’s rights with a national abortion ban.”

...Mucarsel-Powell herself called the housing affordability crisis “the biggest issue.” She blamed a 2011 property insurance policy that Scott signed into law as the culprit of the crisis.

And then there’s Scott’s infamous 12-point plan to “Rescue America.” The unpopular proposal touched the well-understood third rail of politics—targeting Social Security and Medicare....

... Mucarsel-Powell hopes running against the guy who wrote the plan on sunsetting Social Security and Medicare will give her an edge—particularly in Florida.
In one summer poll of this matchup -- admittedly from a Democratic Senate Campaign Committee pollster -- Mucarsel-Powell led Scott 44%-43%. Party polls usually skew a few points in favor of the party's own candidate, but even if you tweak this a bit, it suggests that Mucarsel-Powell could give Scott a run for his money.

But money is the problem. Scott has boatloads of his own, and the Democratic Party and its donors might not want to spend any on this race:
Morgan, for example, told The Daily Beast his involvement in the Florida Senate race will be “zero.” He doesn’t have plans—at least at this point—to donate to Mucarsel-Powell.

“I might write a check, but I don’t see myself raising big money. I would have to see a lot more as we get closer,” Morgan told The Daily Beast....

“We’ll see if she can raise the money,” he added, noting he would also be taking cues from Majority Leader Chuck Schumer....

As skeptical donors see it, every dollar spent on booting Scott from the Senate is a dollar that Democrats aren’t spending on other competitions.
And she's running under the aegis of the hapless Florida Democratic Party (although the party is under new leadership as of last February).

Mucarsel-Powell probably won't win, or even come close. But it will be painful if she loses because of a lack of investment from the national party, especially if the race is very close. It's still painful to think about the Wisconsin Senate race in 2022, in which Democrat Mandela Barnes lost to the loathsome Republican incumbent Ron Johnson by 1 point, largely because the national Democratic Party wrote the race off. It's possible that Florida is now irreversibly red -- but it's also possible that it can be turned back into a purple state again with a little effort.

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