If you have been following my columns about the failures of the Democratic Party, I have one last bothersome footnote to the 2016 general election in Florida.
Both national parties have affiliated groups charged with recruiting candidates to run for the Senate in the hope they will win enough Senate seats to gain — or maintain — majority control. The groups are called the Republican Senate Campaign Committee (RSCC) and Democratic Senate Campaign Committee (DSCC). It is not unusual to see U.S. senators of both parties holding fund-raising events run by these organizations at the Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables. Florida has generous donors and it is a great way to escape winter storms up North — while also getting in a round of golf.
The DSCC money is mainly spent on out-of-state candidates. However, this year The DSCC and Florida donors were excited about U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy winning the Senate seat that Marco Rubio was vacating to run for president. Murphy was the dream candidate — young, good-looking, articulate — and he came from a well-respected family with considerable financial contacts.
The DSCC was all in, booking $20 million of TV time. Part of the deal was the DSCC political consultants imposed on the campaign to help direct it. This was a mixed blessing because the consultants had divided loyalties.
Of course, things never go easily for the Democrats. After Donald Trump knocked Rubio out of the presidential race, Rubio was persuaded by the Republican leadership to reconsider his pronouncement of leaving the Senate and, instead, run for reelection. Rubio became the front-runner immediately but Murphy had more than a viable chance to win. Rubio’s lead was initially only in single digits. But what an opportunity for the Democrats. Murphy could win, thereby knocking off a future Republican presidential candidate and a persistent thorn in Democrats’ side.
Plus a Murphy win would have brought the Democrats a young superstar to the national scene to counterbalance a party of stale baby boomers.
Democratic Senate Campaign Committee consultants started seeing things differently. Despite their commitments and the fact the race was still close, the DSCC suddenly, and without warning, withdrew its financial commitments to Florida.
The DSCC continued to dangle support to Murphy, but — poof! — the $20 million in television time was canceled.
With the election still winnable, why did the DSCC abandon Murphy? One theory holds that it was too expensive to run a statewide Senate campaign in Florida when you can get the same one Senate vote with a less costly campaign in states like New Hampshire or Wisconsin. The brilliant political consultants who believed Florida was lost believed the Democratic Senate nominees could win Missouri, Pennsylvania and Indiana.
On Nov. 9, the DSCC woke up and found they only won New Hampshire. It should gall Florida Democrats that the DSCC will take our money but never invest here.
Another troublesome theory circulating in October was that the DSCC was trying to push the Murphy family into contributing more to the campaign even though they already went above and beyond to help.
If true, the DSCC were demonstrating how greedy and short-sighted the national party has become. It is wrong to expect a family who worked hard to build a well-respected company to sacrifice their financial wherewithal for a campaign in which out party — and all Democrats — had a stake.
To add insult to injury, the DSCC was also telling traditional Democratic organizations offering Murphy’s campaign financial support to spend their money elsewhere, not in Florida. Never mind that Murphy’s record on women’s rights, labor or the environment was excellent. Shameless, unconscionable behavior.
So what should we do? These out-of-state fund raisers are manipulators who just want to use our financial might. Tell them to stop calling. Unsubscribe from DSCC fund-raising emails.
If Democrats are coming to Florida to raise money for their own candidacies, demand they do an event supporting our party and candidates.
It is time we support our own and build the Florida Democratic Party. Restrain from sending money to the DSCC. Florida Democrats need to conserve their financial resources to elect good Democrats to office throughout the state.
Mike Abrams is former chairman of the Dade Democratic Party, a former state legislator and currently a policy adviser to Ballard Partners.