Trotter’s Editorial: Time for Scott Randolph to make a choice.

The current Democratic candidate for Florida House District 47.

We are only two weeks away from the filing deadline for people interested in running for the Florida House of Representatives. Along with that, those that have already qualified or have shown intent before the latest districts were drawn must submit their paperwork for their new districts, or they could be on a ballot in an entirely different area code.

One of the candidates that hasn’t done this yet is Scott Randolph. Over the last few weeks, rumors have been spreading regarding Rep. Randolph’s possible run for his seat. In addition, he has added a number of other “possibilities” to his plate, including running for the chair of the Florida Democratic Party.

But why is Mr.  Randolph waiting until the 11th hour to make his intentions known? The districts were drawn up and approved months ago. So why hasn’t he said he is going to run or not run? Eric Eisnaugle has already told us his intentions in the neighboring district, but why hasn’t Randolph? This idea of waiting until the last minute isn’t doing the voters of his newly drawn district much good. Mr. Randolph needs to tell us his intentions sooner rather than later, even though it might already be too late.

If he runs for his House seat, he has the opportunity to help build the Democratic Party in the State of Florida. Only a few weeks ago, I spoke about how he could revitalize the Democratic Party. Yet this waiting game that is playing out makes me wonder if he will indeed run for his House seat. If he decides not to run, Democrats around the state should question this 11th hour decision by Mr. Randolph.

If he doesn’t run there are two possibilities. Let’s say that he announces, at the last minute, that he isn’t running. Will the Democrats have a viable candidate lined up to take his place? There is a strong possibility that if Rep. Randolph doesn’t run,  the Democrats might be too late to recruit a quality candidate for House District 47. If this happens, the Democratic candidate will lag behind former Representative Bob Brooks in organization, fundraising, name recognition and all other vital aspects of running a campaign.

The other possibility is that Rep. Randolph could play the role of “kingmaker” for whoever runs in this district. As of right now, the Democrats have kept the field clear for Mr. Randolph. Also, as or right now, only Mr. Randolph knows if he is going to seek reelection or not. If he already has a “ready-made” successor, he could possibly wait until the last possible minute, say that he isn’t running for the office, have his hand-picked successor take his place and, with the lack of any time, clear the field for the hand-picked candidate in the Democratic primary.

If Mr. Randolph were to not run for this seat and wait until the absolute last minute to announce he isn’t running, it would be a disservice to both the voters fo House District 47 and the Democratic Party. By leaving the party scrambling to find a quality candidate in a Democratic-leaning district, he could be handing the Republicans this district, something that the Democrats don’t need with such low numbers in the House already.

But what would be worse is if Mr. Randolph waits until the last minute so that he can have a hand-picked candidate be his successor in the Florida House. Not only would this be a disservice, as was mentioned above, but it would also be self-serving and pushing other Democrats out the door.

Since we are only two weeks from the filing deadline, the honorable thing for Rep. Scott Randolph to do is to announce that he is running for reelection. He can continue to champion the good fight up in Tallahassee. Mr. Randolph is one of the strongest progressives in the Florida House of Representatives, and should continue to serve in that capacity for another two years. He is a good legislator.

Any other action by the Randolph campaign could be seen as a political power-play. At this point, so late in the game, an “I’m not running for reelection” statement would look fishy. It would purely show the signs of trying to clear a field to either have a hand-picked candidate by Mr. Randolph run for office, or conceding the seat the the Republicans.

As I have stated before, Mr. Randolph has done a good job in Tallahassee as a legislator. He is a good progressive and should continue the fight for another two years. He, and he alone, should be fighting the battle.

But if this election takes another turn, it has all the makings of a back-room Chicago political power-play deal. As someone that is a native of Chicago, I am extremely familiar with what those look like.

Please Mr. Randolph, let us know your intentions…for the good of the Democratic Party. The 11th hour has already arrived.