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Some big-time national lefties not sold on Alan Grayson for Senate

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Citing personal baggage and “divisive rhetoric,” national leaders in the progressive movement are abstaining from supporting U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson‘s campaign to leave his safe Democratic House seat to jump to the Senate, writes Andrea Drusch in National Journal.

“Alan Grayson’s opening Senate salvo should have been the campaign of liberals’ dreams. In the first week of his campaign, the Florida House Democrat and longtime champion of liberal causes immediately pushed progressives’ favorite policies—and ripped into his moderate Democratic primary opponent, fellow Rep. Patrick Murphy.

‘What Democrats want more than anything else is they want to see that Democratic policies can win,’ Grayson said in an interview with NJ.

But for all the grassroots enthusiasm, amid national progressive groups the reaction has been more, well, moderate.

Compare that to the reception Maryland U.S. Rep. Donna Edwards — like Grayson, a liberal firebrand — received when she announced she might mount a Senate run.

Democracy for America and the Progressive Change Campaign Committee teamed up to petition members urging [Edwards] to join the race. PCCC put out a glowing endorsement the day she joined the race.

National groups launched not so such “draft Grayson” movement, and when he announced two weeks ago that he would run for Senate? Crickets. And in contrast to the instant endorsement Edwards got from the PCCC, the group still hasn’t picked its preferred candidate for the Florida Senate race, and neither has DFA.

That’s because Grayson “doesn’t do himself any favors” on the stump. An annulled marriage, reports of tax-dodging and a reputation as something of a loose cannon among reporters and insiders have hampered his credibility among left-leaning politicos around the country, writes Drusch.

According to unidentified progressive source:

“He’s putting his allies in a really incredibly difficult position of having to defend some of the more problematic aspects of his candidacy by running.”

Chief among those “problematic aspects” are recent reports that Grayson, a vocal critic of tax dodgers, manages several hedge funds in his name in the Cayman Islands, prompting multiple requests for investigation by the House Ethics Committee. When asked about the hedge funds, Grayson called a local reporter a “sh—ing robot.”

Grayson has also made recent headlines for calling his estranged wife, with whom he has five children, a “gold digger” in the midst of an ugly divorce proceeding, and sued her for using his credit card to buy groceries.

“Grayson is such a polarizing figure, even among the activist Left, that I doubt he picks up much of a head of steam,” Markos Moulitsas, founder of the liberal blog Daily Kos, said of the race. “As much as someone may admire his votes or even his strident rhetoric, it’s quite amazing how easily he turns off even potential allies. …

How can you keep a moral high ground going after corrupt hedge-fund managers if you manage your own tax-dodging funds in the Cayman Islands? I doubt many progressives are getting excited about Murphy, but it’s not as if Grayson is a sympathetic alternative.”

Ryan Ray writes about campaigns and public policy in Tampa Bay and across the state. A contributor to FloridaPolitics.com and before that, The Florida Squeeze, he covers the Legislature as a member of the Florida Capitol Press Corps and has worked as a staffer on several campaigns. He can be reached at ryan@floridapolitics.com.

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