Are Democrats celebrating too soon in Florida’s 9th Congressional District?

I am an avid Formula 1 fan. I live for the stuff. I never miss a race…not a single one since 1996. So, to understand this article, you must watch the film below before continuing. While you might not get any of it, or know the people in it, it will set up the rest of the article (which includes even more videos!).

As you can see, :08 into the video, Nigel Mansell starts to do his victory wave to the crowd. But less than a minute later that wave was a little premature.

Is this the exact same thing that is happening in Florida’s 9th Congressional District? Alan Grayson, running for his 4th consecutive election for Congress, and only winning one of them, seems to be the anointed candidate by the DCCC. No other serious Democrat has entered the race, thus clearing the field for Grayson to be the nominee for the Democrats.

With this newly drawn map, Democrats seem to be already throwing their victory party and sticking out their chests with confidence. And even with Charlie Cook giving it a good partisan index rating, saying it is a safe Democratic seat, is it really?

The first question one has to ask is if it is a “Democratic” seat. We always look at seats in Congress and other political subdivisions in terms of “D” and “R”. But in the 9th, it is a bit different. The 9th isn’t a “Democratic seat”, it is a “Hispanic plurality” seat, that has a majority of Democrats in it. Being a “Democratic” seat usually means that the race is a slam dunk, like Kathy Castor’s seat in Tampa. But this isn’t so.

There are two very important factors in this district. The first is race. As of today, 41% of this district is Hispanic, 43% white and 10% black. As was explained in an earlier article on our site, race trumps party when it comes to elections, especially among Central Florida Hispanic voters. John Quinones is an example of the mostly Puerto Rican population in Orange County voting for a respected Hispanic over the Democratic nominee. Disgraced former County Commissioner Mildred Fernandez falls in the same boat as well. These are Republicans who have become very successful in this community. And the main reason why is that Hispanic voters can relate to them. They have very little in common with a white, rich Jewish lawyer.

Unfortunately for Grayson, Quinones has decided to run for this seat. He has already been a proven vote-getter and has yet to lose a political campaign, even running as a Republican in a so-called “Democratic” district. In addition, Quinones is the current Osceola County Commission Chair. While most of the district falls inside Osceola County (Note: came to my attention this isn’t true, but the thesis still stand), Grayson only represented the Celebration neighborhood during his time in Congress. Therefore, voters in Osceola, especially Hispanics, don’t know Grayson. They do know Quinones.

And to make matters worse, the demographics of the new 9th CD are nearly exactly like Florida House District 49 back in 2002, which Quinones won multiple times.

Another person they know is Julius Melendez. He is currently the Vice Chair of the Osceola County School Board. While he has only raised $50,000 (compared to Grayson’s person bankrolling of his campaign), he is known to the people that are important, the voters. He too could cause Grayson problems. But if Melendez were able to win, the RPOF and NRCC will more than likely throw a ton of money and resources his way.

Even though what I mentioned above is bad news, there is good news as well. There are two other Republican candidates for the seat right now. The first is Todd Long, who is a right-winger who lost to Ric Keller in the 2008 Republican primary. But giving Long a challenge is Mark Oxnar of Champions Gate. Oxnar, a “how much of a crazy tea partier can I come across as” candidate, is counting on the very hard right-wing for his support.

With all four candidates, there are two scenarios. First, if Melendez or Quinones wins the primary, the general election will be about race. In that case, Grayson has a hard uphill battle. Not only will these candidates more than likely capture the Puerto Rican votes, but will gain a large percentage of white votes as well. Therefore, money being spent by Grayson might not even matter. If one of these candidates win the GOP primary, they will be the favorites for the seat, and most Democrats wouldn’t even know it.

The second scenario would be if one of the white candidates won. In this case, the general election would be down to party, which Grayson would win easily. Therefore, how hard or easy the election is going to be for Grayson is completely beyond his control. Whoever the Republicans pick will decide how much Grayson will have to pump into this race.

Even with race being an issue, there is another issue that must be of concern for the Grayson campaign, and that is voter fatigue. As mentioned previously, this is Grayson’s fourth attempt at Congress. In two of those elections, voters picked Grayson’s opponent. Therefore, are voters in Central Florida looking for another option? If there was ever a case of “going to the well one to many times”, this is it. In fact, I have another video that can possibly sum up the feelings of seeing Grayson on the ballot yet again.

In most elections where an incumbent lost their seats and ran again for the same seat, the success rate isn’t high. Therefore, fatigue could be another important issue for Grayson. Maybe being in a new district will help, but we will see.

No matter who the Republicans nominate, they are sure to play dirty. This brings up another point regarding the Grayson campaign. If they plan on winning this time around, they need to restore trust in the voters. After the failed “Dan Webster hates women” commercial, Grayson lost the respect of not only a lot of voters, but of diehard supporters.

There is a fine line between making your point and purely lying to make your point. If one must lie to make their point, then there must not be anything else they can do to win the election. For example, when Grayson surfaced on the national spotlight with his “die and die quickly” line, as well as his later “apology”, that was a stroke of unbelievable genius! But the Webster commercial gave Democrats a black eye throughout the nation. What was even more disgraceful was that Grayson refused to apologize for making a blatantly deceitful ad. That is the difference between one side of the fine line and the other.

The Republicans will make an issue of the Webster commercial to question Grayson’s character. And while they might even twist the truth to win, they will absolutely fight dirty until the end. In fact, I have yet another video that sums up how Republicans like to win:

Many Democrats might say “we need to fight like the Republicans.” And while I agree with that, I think we have a moral standard to live up to in order to make our fight worth while. If we have to take someone’s words and twist them to promote our own lies, what makes us any better than them? Trust me, the Republicans have given us, and will continue to give us material that we can use against them without lying about them. People expect Republicans to lie and make asses of themselves. They don’t expect that from us, which is why I think there is a higher bar for Democrats to stay clean in elections.

In the 1991 Canadian Grand Prix, Nigel Mansell ran out of petrol on that last lap, and he would score no points. Therefore, before we start celebrating, we must truly put things into perspective. Alan Grayson isn’t a shoe-in.

17 thoughts on “Are Democrats celebrating too soon in Florida’s 9th Congressional District?”

  1. Isn’t commissioner Val Demnings challenging Grayson in the primary? Grayson’s negatives may sink him in the primary.

  2. Dave Trotter

    Not really, there are a ton of NPA/Other party registrants in that district. I don’t have the exact breakdown, but it isn’t. And, as the article says, if Quinones is the nominee, it doesn’t really matter what party is. It.

  3. But can the Republicans really get a 20% swing in a Presidential year? I understand the John Q thing but he won in a year when McBride not Obama was on top of the ticket and before Hispanics had moved en masse away from the GOP.

  4. Dave Trotter

    But Quinones still wins in Osceola County, which is where a majority of this district is located. And the only reason Democrats did well after John Q left was because Darren Soto, a Hispanic, was a good candidate, and John Q’s brother was extremely horrible. Soto embarrassed him during the debates.

    I didn’t put it in the article, but this is the reason that I want Darren Soto to be the Democratic candidate in this race instead of running for State Senate. Soto could be in Congress in 7 months if he wanted to. Grayson is the wrong candidate, I feel.

    But Obama isn’t going to have the year he had in 2008. And our last good year, 2006, the Democrats didn’t even field a quality candidate in 49. HUGE mistake by Karen Thurman and House Victory!!

  5. I agreee, many Hispanic voters will vote for a fellow Hispanic they know and trust even if he’s in a party they don’t trust! John Q is a proven winner……Grayson’s best hope is a low primary turnout, the Hispanic vote is equally divided and the two “white” guys go on to a runoff. Don’t hold your breathe for that to happen! Not good odds for Grayson!

  6. Dave Trotter

    There is no runoff anymore. Whoever wins the primary goes on to the general.

  7. In 2004 Israel Mercado almost won despite how weak Kerry ran in the area. John Q is formidable, but not un-beatable. Soto would beat him hands down.

  8. Dave Trotter

    Exactly. If the voters voted along party lines, Israel Mercado should have beaten Quinones easily. He didn’t.

  9. Dave Trotter

    Thanks. I read of another blog that Osceola was a majority of this district, so I guess they need to be corrected! 🙂 Still, I think the point still stands.

  10. Dave Trotter

    But going 60/40 in a Presidential race really doesn’t matter. That is the whole point. Party isn’t what they are voting on. If a Hispanic candidate becomes the GOP nominee, he is the front-runner in a race against Grayson. This is a minority-majority district and we are running a white guy. Makes no sense.

  11. Seriously John Q??? The guy who can’t speak English and who sounds like he was just briefed on issues the night prior? he is the worst speaker I have ever heard. What a joke! I thought he was going to win but My goodness after seeing him in Solivita, I couldn’t believe it. Melendez takes this race.

  12. Pingback: Winners and Losers from Primary Day. « The Political Hurricane – Florida Political Blog.