If he was still in the political consulting business, Wayne Garcia would probably be the busiest guy in town right now. He was at the top of his game before he left the business to write for The Weekly Planet and teach at UF. Of all the pros in the local political scene, I respect Wayne’s opinion probably the most because he’s independent enough to not snowjob every story.
That said, Wayne Garcia, the self-titled Political Whore or PoHo, screwed up this week. How, you ask. Was he caught with an intern? Who was a boy? A young boy? Of course not, Wayne’s a family guy. No, the PoHo fucked up by predicting the outcomes of elections more than three months out from Election Day. Even he had to admit this was a bonehead move. Still, this week’s article is, as usual, a great read.
The only move more boneheaded are his actual picks. I’m gonna put aside the choices in Tampa because that’s not my area of expertise. Let’s focus on Pinellas:
Berfield vs. Farkas vs. Justice
The PoHo and I are in agreement on this one. We both think Berfield will beat Farkas in the primary (thank God!) and then deny Charlie Justice any justice in the general. But I have to disagree with Wayne’s assessment: “Democrat Charlie Justice has heart but has not shown solid support — yet. His new campaign manager has whipped him into better shape, and he sounds good on the stump, but this is a Republican district that will be hard to crack.” First of all, I still don’t believe this is a true Republican district, it’s as purple as they come, voting for the GOP at the local level, but Democrats at the state and national level, especially so if you take out the Bush phenomenon.
Also, I want to go ahead and take a whack at the Justice campaign. There is all this talk that, at some point, the FDP is going to bail out the campaign with an infusion of statewide-raised cash, one memo mention upwards of $2 million, most likely from the trial bar. I don’t doubt that Sen. Geller and the lawyers have the money; what I doubt is the Justice campaign’s ability to spend it. The campaign has been, with recent exception, so poorly run, that to inundate it with money would only expose how faulty the plumbing really is. Justice doesn’t have the infrastructure in place, nor the message to communicate, to spend $2 million. Therefore, the money would end up just being splayed around through the usual cookie-cutter paid media the FDP is famous for cooking up. Am I crazy to suggest that a campaign shouldn’t use the money? Of course not. I’m just saying, there are campaigns that know how to use money, such as Farkas’, which has the infrastructure in place to properly expend those kind of resources, and then there are campaigns like Charlie Justice’s.
But I have digressed. I was talking about how much I disagree with Wayne Garcia’s picks in H-51 and H-52. He’s got Long winning over Dottie Reeder and Cappelli beating Heller, who he thinks will beat McCallum in the primary. Wayne doesn’t go into a lot of depth as to why he thinks any of this (certainly this will be the focus of his future articles), but I don’t see how Janet Long, who is struggling to raise money, according to an internal e-mail that was inadvertently sent to me, beats Dottie Reeder, who isn’t struggling and has a better resume and higher name ID than Long. I’d love to see Janet win, but her message is amateur-hour at best and she doesn’t have enough local consulting support (Jesus, this area needs a real Democratic consultant) to out-strategize the GOP.
As for H-52, I don’t doubt that Cappelli will beat Heller, if Heller wins the primary. But he won’t. Because here is the mailpiece that someone will certainly send to hardcore Democrats certain to vote in the primary: “Want to know who Bill Heller supports in this year’s Governor’s race?” “A Republican.” Or what about the mailpiece that shows how many Republicans Heller has donated to, such as Angelo Cappelli himself. Don’t forget the mailpiece that details Heller’s voter registration history; he’s been a Democrat for all of ten minutes.
Heller’s weakness with hardcore Dems — the kind of Dems who will be there on Primary Day — will only be further exacerbated by McCallum’s support from the teachers, unions, trial lawyers and Emily’s List — the kind of Dems who will be there on Primary Day. McCallum is then seen as a giant-killer and she goes on to beat Cappelli.
So, Wayne, if you read this and you want to put a friendly wager on these or any other races, let me know.