**The opinions contained within guest posts are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official opinion of The Jason Henry Project.**
A guest post by Nicole McLaren
In her first prime time interview on Channel 13 this week, Susannah Randolph showed what many of us suspected for a while now – that she is a train wreck waiting to happen for Democrats in 2016. As the redistricting process swings on, it is becoming more and more clear that District 9 will no longer by the 13+ safe Democratic seat that she claims to have worked for for 2 ½ years, but rather a 5+ Dem swing seat including all of Osceola County and large swaths of Polk County.
Even more concerning, this swing district drops to a slim 2+ Dem advantage in the mid-terms. Thus, it will be critical for Democrats to have a nominee with broad general election appeal to help our party up and down the ticket and avoid losing the seat in the mid-terms.
Here’s why we need to be vigilant when picking the Democratic nominee for CD9:
She’s already showing a ridiculous sense of entitlement. When Ybeth Bruzual asked her why she is running now, she responded, “[a] lot of people came to me and said you know it’s your turn. And, uh, not that I think that there’s a turn that you get in politics.” Um, yes, you do.
Why else would you mention it as your top qualification? And what does this even mean? She lists her experience working for fairness and the underrepresented.
The reality is Susannah Randolph made over $27,000 between October 1, 2014 and December 31,2014.
To put that in perspective, the annual salary of someone making $10/hour is around $20,000, which is less than 19% of what Susannah made last year. For that kind of money, you aren’t fighting for fairness. You are doing your job. Voters won’t think kindly about such egoism.
She takes credit for things she didn’t do and fails to give credit when it’s due. Susannah claims she “quarterbacked the strategy” for Osceola’s wage theft ordinance. This is a total insult to the four Democratic Osceola County Commissioners (Arrington, Harford, Grieb and Janer) who pushed for this change for months along with labor leaders and pastors.
It also highlights her desperate attempt to trump up her total lack of real policy accomplishments (pun intended).
She cites the House walk-out as an example of State dysfunction “worse than Congress” and fails to point out that the Senate Democrats sued the Florida House and won. She holds herself out as a campaign organizer, but when asked about specific campaigns, she only cites her husband’s 2006 campaign.
She continues to speak in talking points with little substance. Throughout her interview, she continued to say she was “a fighter”, but was then noticeably sparse on her platform. She will fight for what? We never found out. She stated she is known for getting results. Yes, that Pink Slip Rick Scott campaign went over smashingly.
He’s still our Governor. She briefly regurgitated generic National Democratic Platform points regarding negotiating drug prices for Medicare and paid child care, but failed to propose a single original idea unique to the district or bold proposal to attract independents.
She completely ignores the Hispanic population in District 9. She repeatedly dodged questions and became noticeably defensive when discussing the large Hispanic voting bloc in the district. As an Afro-Caribbean of Panamanian descent, this point is particularly troublesome to me.
Her broad characterization that the district is diverse because it is about 15% African-American, 25%-30% Hispanic and is 60% women, in response to Ybeth Bruzal’s question regarding the large Hispanic population, tells me that she will approach representation of this district in the same way.
She chooses to ignore the intersectionality of this district by not even acknowledging there is a huge Hispanic population. She just shrugged her shoulders and called it “diverse”. She will, most likely, ignore issues specific to these same constituents. While I was taken aback by this cavalier attitude, I was not really surprised.
Unfortunately, people of color and different ethnic backgrounds are used to being overlooked in the interest of efficiency. However, this is not someone who should represent this district in Congress.
This continual insulting behavior and shunning of a key swing vote in the general election has already queued up a Hispanic Republican (who will not ignore us) to take District 9 in the general election.
She is already making cringe-worthy quotes that could cost Democrats in the general election. When asked about the unfortunate attacks on Planned Parenthood, she responded, “[w]e also don’t want to throw the baby out with the bathwater so to speak in the sense of losing the ability to make advances scientifically on things like Parkinsons and Alzheimers where we do.”
WHY????? use this analogy when discussing this situation? If thinking on your feet is not your strong suit, stay behind the scenes. The commercials have already started, the only thing missing is the auto tune remix.
I can already see the Republican ads on this gaffe rolling over and over again in the general election costing other Democratic candidates dearly.
The bottom line is Fair Districts will require Dems to have strong general election candidates. The Florida Supreme Court is leading the charge to create potentially 7 competitive congressional seats, especially District 9. A gaffe-prone, ultra-partisan candidate like Susannah will almost certainly face a moderate Republican Hispanic in the general and easily bleed enough votes to lose a 5 point lead.
Her loss would also drag down Democrats up and down the ticket.
With Fair Districts, long gone are the days when all of Florida’s congressional districts are won almost exclusively in the primary elections. We, Democrats, must also assure that the strongest general election candidates represent our party in order to hold the White House and elect Democrats up and down the ticket.