GOP consultant Anthony Pedicini's post-Jacksonville warning to Republicans

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Editor’s note: The following post is a guest column from Anthony Pedicini, a Republican strategist who, along with several victories in 2010, was 4-and-0 in the state legislative races on which he consulted.
Like a slow moving Hurricane lumbering toward shore, Florida Republicans have time to prepare; if they heed the warnings.
In March, a liberal Republican lost to a conservative Democrat in Tampa’s Mayoral run-off. Comments about the candidate and the campaign aside, only Democrats won seats on the city council. Many have noted the local democratic executive committees do a better job of identifying their candidates in these non-partisan contests. This was the case in Tampa.
The DEC made sure voters knew who their candidates were and from day one, they were out in force.
As a result, the race in Tampa became exceedingly partisan and that was fueled daily by the liberal St. Petersburg Times. But, the Republican party did show up to help, however, the Democrats won every major issue category and their determination on the ground turned into a major victory in Florida’s most important media market. The Republican effort was just too late.
Today, news of Mike Hogan’s defeat in the Jacksonville Mayoral contest is spreading like wild fire. An African American Democratic candidate edged out a super conservative and well known , well financed republican. Of course all of this is pending a recount and 1,000 uncounted absentee ballots. Still, who would’ve thought Jacksonville would go Democratic?
Republican operatives, consultants, pundits, and candidates should take note of these two races and other examples of the Democratic resurgence around Florida in advance of President Obama’s re-election effort.
Republicans beware.
The tea party resurgence that swept so many conservatives into office last November is giving way to something a little less obvious and something the main street media is hiding from the public: An angry Democratic base intent on flexing their grassroots and social media muscles.
It isn’t so much that they’re angry as I believe they are intent on keepingthe President in office and, to their credit, national democrats have determined local elections are great training and testing grounds for operatives and messaging. It also builds major alliances that can come through in a pinch. And, in 2012 there might just be a lot of pinching.
Elected officials should stay true to their principles but begin to moderate many stances to keep the attention and support of Florida’s swing voters. Issues that anger independents can wait for sunnier weather. Republicans should concentrate on the economy and jobs and spending- how hard can that be?
If conservatives start to plan now they can survive the storm. Connectivity to the electorate and a superior command of issues and messaging will be key but it can’t be a last minute pandering for conservatives to expect to keep the gains that have been made. Not this time.

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.