I've drifted away from this for the last few days, except when national and state politics intersect, and there will be a little taste of that in this post, but I'm going to start a little further south from here in Miami.
Via Miami-Dade Dems, there's an article in the Miami Herald about the Miami Three--Lincoln and Mario Diaz-Balart and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen--all of whom are facing serious challenges to their seats, and all of whom are afraid to meet their challengers face to face in a debate. Now I don't blame the Miami Three. They have all the advantages of incumbency--war chests, name recognition, close working relationships with the powerful people in their districts. And this is a year when their party brand is suffering--why shouldn't they run from confrontation, from any possibility that their constituents might recognize them as cheerleaders of the worst president in US history? I'd be afraid to face my voters too.
The challengers responded this way:
The Republicans' decision to skip the event rankled the Democrats, with Joe Garcia, who is challenging Mario Diaz-Balart, calling it an "act of political cowardice."The challengers will still take part in the AFL-CIO events next week, and maybe this time the union will endorse the party that's on the better side of labor issues. Let's send the Miami Three back to Miami and get some new blood in DC.
Former Hialeah mayor Raul Martinez, who is challenging Lincoln Diaz-Balart, concurred.
"This is very disappointing," Martinez said. "The voters deserve public debates on the issues. Lincoln votes blindly with [President] Bush and then won't explain why. Lincoln has failed the voters again. He talks tough and then hides."
Businesswoman Annette Taddeo, who is challenging Ros-Lehtinen, and was in Washington, D.C., this week raising money for her campaign, said she's still hoping for a change of heart.
"It's time for some dialogue," said Taddeo's spokeswoman, Anastasia Apa. "We're prepared."
Presidential politics also hit Florida again, and not only in the form of Senator Clinton's insulting comments. John McCain is apparently going to at least consider tempting fate by looking closely at Governor Charlie Crist as his running mate.
Senator John McCain of Arizona is set to meet with at least three potential running mates at a gathering at his ranch this weekend in Arizona, suggesting that he is stepping up his search for a vice-presidential candidate as the Democratic contest heads toward a conclusion, according to Republicans familiar with Mr. McCain’s plans.At first glance, the choice seems solid--he's popular here and would likely solidify the state for McCain, he's younger, and he's fairly telegenic. But given that McCain already has huge problems with his Christian conservative base, I don't see Crist as much help other than in the geography. He's great for the tax cut wing of the Republicans--much to the dismay of all responsible people in the state--and he has no great love for higher education, but he didn't back the nutjobs in the legislature who wanted to put creationism in the classrooms, and he's been really silent on Amendment 2, the so-called marriage amendment. Socially, he's no friend of the far right, so he doesn't help McCain shore up that base.
Gov. Charlie Crist of Florida, Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, and Mitt Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts and a onetime rival for the Republican nomination, have all accepted invitations to visit Mr. McCain at his ranch in Sedona, Republicans said.
All it seems he really does is give McCain Florida, and while I'm hopeful we can make it competitive for Obama, I do have to say that McCain already has a pretty good advantage here. I'm confident the Democrats will make gains, especially in targeted races, but I'm less sanguine about the state-wide chances. The northern part of the state will be a tough nut to crack for the Democrats.