Because Tuesday’s version of this story, which focused on statewide candidates, was so popular, here is a another assessment of who to blame if certain campaigns end up losing — other than the candidates themselves because that would be too easy.
If Ellyn Bogdanoff loses, blame Andy Gardiner and Joe Negron. Bogdanoff is challenging Democratic incumbent state Senator Maria Sachs in a district which traditionally favors Democrats, so it’s easy to say that Bogdanoff will have no one to blame but the numbers if she loses. But that’s only half the story. Gardiner, the incoming Senate President, is the titular head of the Florida GOP’s Senate campaign operation, which has spent ZERO dollars on Bogdanoff. That’s a grave sin of omission. And it’s because Bogdanoff is pledged to support Jack Latvala’s bid for the Senate presidency if she is elected. It’s understandable Gardiner does not want to appear to play favorites, but the possibility of achieving the 27th vote in the Florida Senate should have superseded that.
If Rep. Joe Saunders loses his House seat, blame/credit the Florida GOP’s Frank Terraferma, one of the brightest minds in Florida politics, for sensing a vulnerability in HD 49 and then taking exploiting that opportunity before the Florida Democratic Party could respond.
If Reps. Mark Danish and Carl Zimmermann lose to Republican challengers, I think you have to blame Mark Pafford and other Florida House Democrats for pushing out Darryl Rouson as incoming leader. Say what you will about Rouson’s ethics — and the ethics of his political consigliere Barry Edwards — but something tells me they would have paid more attention to the battleground House seats the Democrats are on the verge of losing. Pafford may go down as one of the biggest losers this election cycle if the Florida GOP achieves a veto-proof majority in the Florida House.
If Bill Young loses, blame the Tampa Bay Times. Young, the son of the iconic C.W. “Bill” Young, was already facing a steep climb running against a Democrat incumbent in plum purple House District 68. And Young has not run the kind of campaign Frank Farkas (’98) or Jeff Brandes (’10) did to knock off the Democratic incumbents they upset. But the way the Times has dragged the Young family through the mud during the year since the Congressman died is shameful. More than anything, the Times‘ coverage of a family in mourning is responsible if Young loses.
If the Greenlight Pinellas initiative loses, blame Tony Collins and Ronnie Duncan. Long before Greenlight Pinellas was a campaign, it was an educational outreach effort by the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority. This allowed PSTA to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars “educating” residents about the benefits of expanded transit choices. Along with PSTA’s Brad Miller, Collins and Duncan were the brains behind this operation. Even though this educational outreach raised some the hackles of some anti-government activists, the plan was a brilliant one — right up until Collins, formerly of public relations firm Tucker/Hall, and Duncan, a former County Commissioner, screwed the pooch and threw the whole effort into chaos. It’s still not clear what happened to Collins, one of the until-then savviest operators in Tampa Bay political circles. But the sh*t hit the fan nevertheless, forcing the Greenlight campaign to be turned over to the St. Petersburg Chamber of Commerce’s Chris Steinocher, the Pinellas Realtors, and others who, while doing a nnnniiiccceee job running ads showing local elected officials in them, find themselves on the verge of losing.