Watching (or is it witnessing?) Democratic state Rep. Darryl Rouson interact with gubernatorial candidate Alex Sink as she toured several African-American churches in south St. Petersburg, it’s obvious that the two would make a helluva political team.
Rouson and Sink are everything the other is not, and therefore, together, they are greater than what either of them could be individually. Sink is almost perfect, open, patient, temperate, understanding; Rouson is flawed, but redeemed, fiery, sharp, empathetic. Sink has the background and resume Rouson would have had had he been born on the right side of the tracks. Rouson has the passion even Sink’s most ardent supporters wish they could infuse into her.
In any other election year, Rouson would be a sure-fire choice to make Sink’s short list of possible lieutenant governor candidates. Rouson, arguably, had the most successful legislative session this year of any Democrat, passing four of his six sponsored bills, including legislation attacking drug paraphernalia and updating Florida’s election laws. His presence on the ballot would surely increase turnout among Florida’s black voters. And, in Rouson, Sink would have as fierce an attack dog as can be found in Florida’s junkyard.
But Sink can’t and won’t pick Rouson.
First of all, (and there are few more ardent defenders of Rouson than this blog), Rouson’s past is still too controversial for a statewide campaign. But Rouson’s past isn’t really the problem. There’s just little advantage for Sink to team up with an African American from Tampa Bay. With Kendrick Meek on the ballot, Sink (and other Florida Democrats) don’t have to worry about turning out the black vote. Or, at least, there is nothing Sink can do to turn out African American voters that Kendrick Meek can’t. And, as unimportant as geography actually plays in the choice of LG, adding Rouson to the ticket is geographically redundant.
So, Sink won’t pick Rouson, or any of the other smart Democrats from the Tampa Bay area, such as state Reps. Rick Kriseman or Keith Fitzgerald. Presumably, Sink will not pick another woman to be on the ticket, so that scratches several names off the short list.
Who will Sink end up picking? My guess? If she can wait long enough, why not the loser of the Dave Aronberg vs. Dan Gelber race for attorney general. “Loser” is such a strong term for the loser of this race…how about non-winner? After all, it’s hard to see Aronberg or Gelber beating the other by more than four or five points.
The non-winner of the Democratic primary for attorney general fills several of the needs Sink will try to address with her LG pick. Both Aronberg and Gelber can help her in South Florida, they both bring partisan firepower to the campaign and neither of them will “do harm” to Sink, other than the superficial complaint that they have just lost an election so why should they be rewarded with a plum spot on the statewide ticket.
On that last issue, Sink has to look no further than how Barack Obama has incorporated Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton into his administration for a model as to how a great leader can integrate former opponents into forceful allies.
If the preliminary polls are accurate, and Gelber ends up narrowly defeating Aronberg, I think Sink will be under a lot of pressure to choose Aronberg because of the immense potential Aronberg possesses. If he does end up losing to Gelber, Aronberg will have done so only because Gelber yielded to pressure to cede the U.S. Senate nomination to Kendrick Meek. Florida’s Democrats will owe Dave Aronberg.
It may not be this year, but soon enough, Florida’s Democrats will also need Dave Aronberg. Eight years from now, when Gov. Alex Sink is preparing to leave office, a strong Democrat will need to be in place to square off against the Adam Putnam juggernaut. Who better to carry on Sink’s legacy than a smarter, wiser, more experienced Dave Aronberg?
If, as I am almost ready to predict, Dave Aronberg edges out Dan Gelber, how could Sink pass up the opportunity to scoop up Gelber? With a Sink-Gelber ticket, the Democrats will be able to talk all day about competence and experience.
Either way, Aronberg or Gelber offer Sink the best choice for a lieutenant governor candidate. Other than my dream ticket of Sink and Rouson.
Speaking of Aronberg and Gelber, why hasn’t anyone else spoofed the landmark “Dan vs. Dave” Reebok commercials from 1992?