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Scott Arceneaux: The Eddie Mush of Florida politics

in Peter/Top Headlines by

“Eddie Mush was a degenerate gambler. He was the world’s biggest loser. He was “Mush” because everything he touched turned to mush.”

Now that Andrew Gillum has fired his campaign manager and finance director, a good question is who is steering his gubernatorial campaign?

There are many good people (Kevin Cate among them) still aboard that ship, which may or may not be sinking. And then there’s one person who seems to turn everything he touches in Florida politics to mush.

I am, of course, referring to Scott Arceneaux.

Arceneaux has not done anything newsworthy to warrant this column, but with yet another campaign turning to mush, it’s a good time to remind everyone that he is, without a doubt, the Eddie Mush of Florida politics.

In 2009, Arceneaux left his beloved Louisiana for the executive director gig at the Florida Democratic Party after being hired by then-Party Chair Karen Thurman. Being ED of the FDP is probably the worst, most thankless job in state politics. It’s sorta like being the head coach of the Los Angeles Clippers — no matter what you do, you’ll never be as good as the Lakers, or in this case, the Republican Party of Florida.

Arceneaux’s inability to judge the headwinds was evident early in his stint as executive director. In his first strategy report to Democratic leaders in 2009, Arceneaux wrote: “The chaos in the Republican Party of Florida, combined with Floridians looking to throw the metaphorical ‘Republican Bums’ out of office, confirms that the national anti-incumbent environment works to the advantage of Florida Democrats.” (H/t to Nancy Smith of Sunshine State News for hanging on to that gem.)

How did Arceneaux’s strategy work for Gov. Alex Sink or U.S. Sen. Kendrick Meek?

In 2010, voters approved a constitutional amendment aimed at preventing political gerrymandering, yet Republicans dominance of Florida politics only increased under “Arcenmush.” Democrats hold only 41 of 120 state House seats, 15 of 40 Senate seats and are outnumbered in the U.S. House 16-11.

The 2010 “fair districts” constitutional amendment was aimed at preventing gerrymandering. It requires lawmakers to draw maps that don’t benefit incumbents or political parties and try to keep communities from being divided for political purposes.

With Democrats, part of the problem is institutional, Democratic political consultant Steve Schale said in an Associated Press report about how Republicans dominate Florida politics. For Schale, the party has no discipline and doesn’t recruit candidates as aggressively as it should.

If the Democrats’ problem is institutional, isn’t it fair to point fingers at the one person who has been atop the institution for seven-and-a-half-years?

Yet, it’s not just his time at the Florida Democratic Party which makes Arceneaux a mush.

Arceneaux was a senior strategic adviser to the Hillary Clinton campaign, for which he helped to direct the in-state operations of a staff of over 600.

President Hillary Clinton did as well in 2016 as Governor Sink did in 2010.

And now Arceneaux is attached to the Andrew Gillum campaign, which has gone from being the party’s “best hope” (as described by the Tampa Bay Times Adam Smith) to its current state, rudderless and spending more money than it raises.

It’s worth noting that during his time in Florida, Arceneaux moonlighted for the Democratic Governors Association, where he helped John Bel Edwards win the Louisiana governor’s race.

Because a true mush is not someone who loses ALL of the time. If they did, they would eventually have to give up playing.

Florida Democrats would be best served taking handicapper Joe Fortenbaugh‘s advice: Once you know who the mush is backing, go the other way.

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Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.

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