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Mitch Perry Report for 3.18.15 — No DWS, no problem. Right, Dems?

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

Debbie Wasserman Schultz will not be a candidate for the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate next year, but hopefully that doesn’t “pave the way” for fellow South Florida Democratic U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy to become the groomed nominee in 2016.

As a Tampa Bay-based political reporter, I have to admit knowing very little about Congressman Murphy — his philosophy, his temperament. Hell, even his voting record. Yes, there’s plenty of time to find out, but the Democratic Party really has to get over this idea that their lives will be better if they don’t have any competition in their primary elections. For one thing, when has that truly proven to be the case anytime lately?

With Hillary Clinton’s email issues not going away, more and more observers realize that the Democrats need to have some other candidates to challenge Mrs. Clinton for the presidential nomination, if in fact she announces her candidacy next month as expected.

And I always refer to how David Jolly became a better candidate after being severely challenged by fellow Republicans Kathleen Peters and Mark Bircher in the Pinellas County CD13 race last year.

But back to the Florida Senate: Alan Grayson appears to be preparing a candidacy. My initial thoughts are that he would not be the best general election candidate against Jeff Atwater or Marco Rubio or whoever the GOP nominee is, but then again, Grayson has a point when he says that the centrists that the Democrats have been nominating for statewide offices in recent years don’t exactly have a great track record to stand on.

DWS was a problematic candidate, however, and that was the case well before the recent contretemps with John Morgan. Simply put, she’s alienated Democrats in the state with her strong opposition to medical marijuana, and in Tampa Bay, a lot of folks aren’t pleased that she maintains the hardline attitude toward Cuba.

And then there’s the fact that as chair of the Democratic National Committee, part of her job description is to be very partisan. And while she does get off some good lines in press conferences, she’s also gotten herself into trouble by going overboard with some of her descriptions about the evilness of Republicans.

I’m not sure how great a statewide candidate she would have been, but again, I’m for more choices, not fewer, so in that respect I’m sorry to hear her take her proverbial hat out of the ring.

But Grayson isn’t ready to concede the nomination to Murphy, thankfully. And why would anyone think otherwise a year and a half before the election would be ideal, anyhow? I mean, other than the folks who run the Florida Democratic Party?

In other news..

The fight between advocates for a solar power constitutional amendment and their foes is extremely visceral. And it’s only the middle of March of 2015. Yesterday Tea Party co-founder Debbie Dooley ripped into Ralph Reed after the Florida chapter of his group Faith & Freedom Coalition accused the amendment language of calling for subsidies.

Frank Artiles admits his bill is a “work in progress.” A fellow Republican told him yesterday that he should deal with administrators in Miami-Dade County, since it’s only in the representative’s home county where he has an issue about transgender people entering into the “wrong” bathroom. Nevertheless his measure moved on in the House, though it may die in the state Senate.

A day after we reported on Ocala state Rep. Dennis Baxley reversing his vote on supporting gay adoption in the House, the Marion County Republican Party rebuked him and two other GOP representatives for approving the measure, which they said was in direct conflict with the principles stated in the Republican Party of Florida platform.

And the Hillsborough County Democratic Party is doing all it can to keep the Tampa City Council all Democratic in its membership. The DEC approved spending $1,500 in party funds for get-out-the-vote efforts for Guido Maniscalco, locked in an intense battle for the District 6 seat with Jackie Toledo.

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

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