Your Senate Sunday: Florida's U.S. Senate Race About As Screwy As Everything Else In Florida

Just in aCarl Hiaasen kind of mood, you know?

Ah, Florida. Land of Florida Man, real estate scams, hurricanes, disappearing coastlines, and people who walk right off the sidewalk into novels by Tim Dorsey and Carl Hiaasen. And in typically chaotic Floridian fashion, it's also home to what until late June looked like a wide-open donnybrook for an open U.S. Senate seat, until Marco Rubio decided he wasn't quite as tired of being a senator as it seemed when he was running for president (and also the whole time he's actually been a senator). Now Rubio is suddenly the cash-flush incumbent whose decision to seek reelection knocked several thousand (fine, five) hopefuls out of the Republican primary, while the Democratic race pretty much comes down to a fight between two sitting congressmen, centrist Patrick Murphy, who has virtually all the institutional backing, and very progressive Alan Grayson, the target of not funny at all charges by his former wife that he was an abusive bastard for two decades. Spoiler Alert: Yr Wonkette is rooting for bland but tolerable Murphy in the August 30 primary.

Thanks to Marco Rubio's re-entry into the Republican primary, that race, which we'd had high hopes might look like the The Batley Townswomens' Guild re-enactment of the Battle of Pearl Harbour, isn't even close. And did you know that Rubio decided he had to run for reelection because of the Orlando nightclub massacre? Totally true. Why would he make that up?

Nominally, there are five names on the GOP primary ballot, but recent polling shows Rubio stomping his closest remaining competitor, developer Carlos Beruff, by 33 percentage points. Just about the only interesting thing that can be said about Beruff is that he's from "Manatee County," which sounds like it may be named, like a shopping mall, after the wildlife it wiped out. You good Wonkers already know who Marco Rubio is, so we'll say almost nothing more about the little shit here. His main strategy for reelection appears to be "being the incumbent" and "praying he won't be caught in the undertow when Donald Trump capsizes and sinks." Plus, since this is Florida we're talking about, maybe some ratfucking on Rubio's behalf, more about which in a moment.

But first, people, we have to talk about Alan Grayson. Like all decent human beings, we loved his star turn in 2009 as the guy who explained the Republican healthcare plan was 1) Don't get sick and 2) If you get sick, die quickly.

It was a great day to be a Democrat and all that, but then in 2014, while Grayson and his wife Lolita were getting messily divorced, Lolita Grayson accused the congressman of slamming her into a door frame, after which she sought and was granted a protective order. More recently, Politico reported in detail on the 20-year history of abuse allegations Lolita Grayson had made against him, backed up by copies of police and medical reports on incidents going back to 1994. Grayson, through his attorney, denied the charges and claimed Lolita "is a disturbed woman," but the Politico piece makes a pretty compelling case. Two liberal groups that had been backing Grayson in the primary withdrew their endorsements, his supporters started vanishing, and we say the hell with him.

Also, Harry Reid threw some epic shade at Grayson over Grayson's decidedly skeevy-looking Cayman Islands hedge funds, for which we thank Sen. Reid.

Then there's the possible Republican ratfucking in the Democratic primary. Largely unnoticed in the noise over the Politico story on the abuse allegations, the Washington Post ran a story the same day about some very curious spending by rightwing groups on advertising against Rep. Murphy, who had largely consolidated Democratic establishment support for his campaign. In July, outside groups including the Koch brothers' American Future Fund, bought about $4 million in negative advertising against Murphy, leading to speculation that Republicans were trying to help Grayson win the Democratic primary because they believed Rubio would have an easier time running against Grayson than Murphy. Democrats suspected it was a version of the trick Missouri Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill pulled off in 2012, when she funded ads "against" Todd Akin -- claiming he was "too conservative" -- that ultimately helped Akin become the GOP nominee. McCaskill went on to defeat Akin easily, helped along by his idiotic comments about "legitimate rape." Before Grayson's campaign imploded, it looked like Republicans might manage to neutralize Murphy, but that seems unlikely now -- in a poll released last week, Murphy led Grayson by 25 percentage points, 45 percent to 20 percent. We're guessing the Kochs aren't holding out too much hope for Grayson now.

So, how about this Patrick Murphy guy? He did America the great favor of defeating rightwing loonypants torture aficionado Allen West in 2012, which already inclines us to like him and wish him well. Yes, he's a bit more of a centrist flavor of Dem than we'd find ideal, but if he's liberal enough for endorsements from President Obama and Old Handsome Joe Biden, he's liberal enough for us. He also has the huge advantage of not being Marco Fucking Rubio. Murphy has sided with House Republicans on a couple of things we're far from delighted with, like supporting the now-defunct Keystone XL Pipeline and calling for increased vetting of Syrian refugees, but that's not too surprising, considering he's a former Republican who switched parties when he got sick of the influence of Tea Party know-nothings taking over the GOP. Given his record ever since, we'll take him. His website's "issues" page has him supporting all the good liberal stuff we like: he supports fully restoring the Voting Rights Act and fighting against Republican vote-suppression schemes; he's for comprehensive immigration reform with a path to citizenship; he's pro-choice, with 100% ratings from Planned Parenthood and NARAL; he wants an increased minimum wage and pay equity for women; he wants to toss Citizens United and put strong campaign finance reforms in place; and he's big on criminal justice reform and restoring voting rights to former felons, which is a huge deal in Florida, as you all may remember from 2000.

What kind of chances does Murphy have against Marco Rubio? The Real Clear Politics polling average currently has Rubio ahead by 4.4 percentage points, which isn't insurmountable, especially if Florida goes to Hillary Clinton in the fall. Florida is one of the seats Democrats really want to win to recapture the Senate, so Murphy can look forward to plenty of cash and campaign support -- Old Handsome Joe Biden has already campaigned three times in the state on Murphy's behalf, most recently on Friday. And then there's Donald Trump, who smooshed Rubio in the Republican presidential primary in Florida so bad that Rubio gave up running for president and said he was done with politics forever, the lying liar. Currently, Clinton leads Trump in recent Florida polling by six percentage points, and it seems highly unlikely that Trump will suddenly convince the state's substantial black and Hispanic populations to support him; it's less clear whether Murphy will be able to capitalize on Trump's unpopularity. With three months to go until the general election, we're betting Trump will probably be able to alienate a whole lot more people, and with any luck, Patrick Murphy can become known as the guy who defeated both Allen West and Marco Rubio.

Want to help Patrick Murphy send Marco Rubio to a new job as another dumb talking head on Fox News? Murphy's Act Blue donation page is right here! Want to support Yr Wonkette's project to cover all 34 Senate races in our great republic? We'd appreciate your spare couch change and meth proceeds (this is Florida week, after all) in our tip jar! Please, no alligators.

[Think Progress / Florida Politics / Five Thirty-Eight / Politico / Progressive Change Campaign Committee / Politico / WaPo / Florida Politics / Politico again! / RCP / St Louis Post-Dispatch / NYT / Featured image from Carl Hiaasen's Bad Monkey, which you should read, dammit]

Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.


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