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Dan Gelber the Legislator vs. Dan Gelber the Candidate

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Dan Gelber is everything a progressive Democrat could want in a candidate.  Ideologically, Senator Gelber has a proven track record of fighting for causes important to both liberal and moderate wings of the party.  Personally, the man is simply impressive, with a distinguished resume and a dignified, but welcoming disposition that just radiates a sense of gravitas.

I had the opportunity to speak with Senator Gelber last Thursday when he was in St. Petersburg and I immediately remembered why we Democrats like him so much.

Unfortunately for Senator Gelber, it’s been a tough past couple of weeks.  Neck and neck with Senator Dave Aronberg for the nomination in the Attorney General  race, this is not exactly the right time for Gelber to face questions about the timing of his resignation from his law firm, which has been selected to represent BP in any litigation stemming from the oil spill.

Of course, it’s also not a good idea to call into the question the integrity of one of the most universally respected leaders in the state.  Except, that is what Dave Aronberg is doing – effectively.

Why? Because Aronberg is fighting Dan Gelber the Candidate, not Dan Gelber the Legislator. The latter is a towering figure in Florida politics, the former is pretty much to blame for the entire state of electoral affairs in the Sunshine State.

Dan Gelber the Legislator is the man who deserved a Profile in Courage award for, during the 2008 legislative session,  single-handedly standing up against the legislative arrogance of Marco Rubio and his Republican colleagues.

Dan Gelber the Legislator is the beloved party leader who, just in Tampa Bay alone, commands the respect of almost every Democratic elected official.  State Reps. Rick Kriseman, Janet Long and Keith Fitzgerald would pretty much run into a wall if it was for Gelber.

But that’s not the person Dave Aronberg is running against.  He’s running Dan Gelber the candidate, the guy who dropped out of the Democratic primary against Kendrick Meek – on the advice of his closest consultants.

Dan Gelber is the candidate who says he’s not a shareholder of Akerman, Senterfitt, although that’s exactly what’s listed on the Martindale-Hubbell website.

Dan Gelber is the candidate who will get pounded by the Republicans in the general election for said connections to the law firm representing BP.

Dan Gelber, unfortunately, is not the guy to go head-to-head with soon-to-be Ag. Commissioner Adam Putnam in eight years when either Alex Sink is done with her two terms.

It’s for these reasons that, if this election turns out to be choice between Dan Gelber the Candidate or Dave Aronberg, Dan Gelber the Legislator may be in trouble.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including,,, 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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