Mitch Perry Report for 8.1.16 – Crunch time in the Florida primary

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

One of the many indelible moments that I bore witness to last week in Philadelphia at the Democratic National Convention was when Bernie Sanders delegated booed down Debbie Wasserman Schultz at the Florida Delegation Breakfast last Monday.

It was a day after Wasserman Schultz had been forced to step down as DNC Chair (“taking one for the team” she told a group last Thursday night in Philly), but she was still scheduled to gavel in the beginning of the convention later that afternoon.

Obviously, that didn’t happen. Hours after the incident was still reverberating around Philadelphia, I literally bumped into a Washington-based reporter at the convention center who asked me if Wasserman Schultz was vulnerable in her bid for re-election this year against Democratic challenger Tim Canova. I told her I thought she still was probably the favorite, but we didn’t really have much public polling to go on.

Now we do. A poll released yesterday by the Canova camp shows that Wasserman Schultz is up by eight percentage points, 46 percent to 38 percent. The spread is thinner when voters learn more information about Canova, but he’s still not very well known in the district. Can that change within the next 29 days? Well, Canova has hired three of Bernie Sanders’ media consultants to change that equation.

Meanwhile, over the weekend I caught up with some political journalism that was published in the last week while covering the DNC. One of them was the Jason Zengerle’s NY Mag piece, “The second-strangest campaign of the season,” all about our U.S. Senate race here in Florida.

It’s definitely worth your time. I love Zengerle’s description of Alan Grayson as a “large slab of a man with a giant head that wouldn’t look out of place on Easter Island and a mincing, splayfooted gait that resembles that of a penguin. Throw in his customary wardrobe of garish cowboy boots and novelty neckties that feature everything from Monopolymoney to rainbow peace signs, and he doesn’t call to mind a congressman so much as the villain in a Batman movie.”

Zengerle was at last month’s Florida Democratic Party’s Leadership Blue Gala at the ultra swanky Diplomat Hotel, which provides plenty of color for the piece.

It feels dated a bit, even though it’s only been out for a week. That’s because the Grayson’s campaign was rocked bigtime last week with the revelation that ex-wife, Lolita Grayson, had provided Politico with police reports showing she contacted police at least four times with accusations of domestic abuse. The revelations compelled four staffers to leave his campaign 24 hours after that news broke.

Then later that same day, Grayson showed up at a Politico event and told a Politico reporter asking him questions about the incidents that he wanted to have him “arrested.”

Democratic Senate leaders Harry Reid and Chuck Schumer – never Grayson fans to begin with and both of whom had already endorsed Patrick Murphy – said it was time for Grayson to drop out of the race, “because he can’t win.”

That’s been the same argument folks like Schumer have been making for months, but there’s not a whole lot of  data indicating that’s necessarily the case – or certainly that he’d do any worse than Murphy would against GOP incumbent Marco Rubio. A recent NBC News/WSJ/Marist poll shows Murphy down to Rubio by only three percentage points. It did not poll for a Grayson-Rubio possible matchup.

Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served as five years as the political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. He also was the assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley. He's a San Francisco native who has now lived in Tampa for 15 years and can be reached at mitch.perry@floridapolitics.com.