It isn’t often when Gypsy Gallardo, Leslie Wimes, and I agree about something in Florida politics.
But about the Florida Democratic Party’s expectation for black voter turnout in St. Petersburg’s mayoral race, the three of us have essentially reached the same conclusion.
Are you f*cking kidding?
Wimes was first to report about the memo written by the FDP’s political director, Roosevelt Holmes, who writes “our current staff on the ground believes that expected turnout in the African-American community will be less than 10 percent.”
I don’t know who the “current staff on the ground” is, but if they believe black turnout in the August 29 primary will be less than 10 percent, they should be fired IMMEDIATELY for gross incompetence.
As I first noted on Twitter, black voter turnout in the 2013 election was 29 percent. And that was in a race featuring a candidate who had all but written off campaigning for African American votes. In 2009, when two candidates who weren’t exactly household names in the black community ran — Bill Foster and Kathleen Ford — black voter turnout was still 21 percent.
Even in the election years when there wasn’t a mayoral race on the ballot, turnout well exceeded the 10 percent threshold being forecast by the Florida Democratic Party (in 2015, black turnout was 15 percent; in 2011, it was 11.5 percent).
Fast-forward to this election in which you have Rick Baker and four other candidates challenging Rick Kriseman. For his part, Kriseman is a Barack Obama acolyte who has been endorsed by almost every black elected official in south Pinellas. Baker is, without a doubt, the most popular Republican within the black community since Charlie Crist first ran for governor. Even three of the also-rans in this race – Anthony Cates, Theresa Lassiter, and Jesse Nevel – are from and connected to the black community.
So to suggest that Kriseman, Baker, Cates, Lassiter, and Nevel will fail to inspire more than 10 percent of black voters to cast a ballot is, WITHOUT A DOUBT, the second dumbest statement made in this campaign. (Candidate Paul Congemi’s racist charge to supporters of Nevel that they “go back to Africa” cannot be topped.)
(BTW, why is it that every four years, someone says something really stupid about the role of the black vote in St. Pete’s mayoral elections? Remember in 2013 when Foster’s political consultant, Jack Hebert, questioned the power of the black vote, saying its well-established role in helping to decide the eventual winner was an “urban myth.”)
It’s not clear why the FDP let such bad intelligence make it to the light of day.
Gallardo writes that that the memo is an “outright fabrication” of the black community’s voting strength. Like me, she believes “another surge seems certain for black voters this year, but for all new reasons”
Wimes suggests “they don’t want black voters to turn out in St. Petersburg because they are afraid the black voters aren’t voting for Rick Kriseman! (which they don’t seem to be).”
Maybe the memo is a false flag to scare up more black votes. But that’s probably giving the FDP too much credit. Instead, this memo can be chalked up as just more of the usual incompetence from the Florida Democratic Party.
At this point, there’s really not much the FDP or anyone else can do to save Kriseman’s campaign, so the stupidity of this memo probably doesn’t matter in this race. But it should scare the hell out of every Democrat running in 2018.
If this is the kind of thinking that’s being done at party headquarters, it could be a very bad election cycle for the donkeys.