Why is the Frankel-Hasner race for CD 22 tightening?

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The following is cross-posted from Kartik Krishnaiyer of the Political Hurricane.

Conflicting polls and reports have come out recently regarding the hotly contested CD 22 race. Former House Minority Leader and West Palm Beach Mayor Lois Frankel appears to be struggling to hold off former State Rep. Adam Hasner.  The polls released in the past few days are all over the map ranging from a slight Hasner lead to a double-digit lead for Frankel in a DCCC poll. Hasner is drawing significant support from Democrats in some of the polling which owes itself largely to the Houdini act performed by his media team.

Hasner was a hyper-partisan figure in his time in the State House rising up to the position of Majority Leader and serving as a leading rhetorical attack dog for House Republicans. This softer, gentler, more moderate Hasner which has been on display the past two months is a direct contradiction of his partisan and right-wing voting record but more importantly of his previous rhetorical direction which was almost always to play angry, indignant partisan.

In the State House, Hasner represented a district that voted heavily for Barack Obama in 2008 and where John Kerry had run strongly in 2004. Yet at no time did he feel that he needed to moderate his record. Hasner’s voting record of lock step conservatism is one thing; several other GOP Reps from all over the state in seats like his that vote a straight party line. It was Hasner’s rhetoric that was most objectionable. If the GOP needed a partisan pit-bull, Hanser was always a willing volunteer. Repeatedly through the years Hasner would impugn the motives of the opposition and those who on principle stood against his positions.

It’s difficult to say where this race is headed but one obvious thing is that Hasner is over-performing to this point. The reinvention of Adam Hasner by national Republican media strategists  is one big part of this, as is good fundraising but the other troubling aspect is the causes for Frankel’s problems.

One big problem for Frankel has been the unwillingness of some Democratic “leaders”, many for selfish or self indulgent reasons to not work hard for her election. Frankel has been a true progressive leader for many years in the party and it would be a shame to see the opportunity to get a strong voice on critical issues in congress go by the wayside because of the egos of some activists and politically connected individuals. Another problem was the needless primary challenge by Broward County Commissioner Kristan Jacobs which drained needed resources and time away from the Frankel effort. Jacobs, who is an attractive candidate and good County Commissioner was never going to win or even be competitive in the primary, but the efforts of her campaign may have undermined Frankel at a critical time. A third problem has been the assumption that because of overall Democratic performance in the district, that Frankel was shoe-in. Complacency has set in among many local Democrats who have already placed this race in the “W” column and have moved on to other things. We see a dangerously similar complacency statewide in the US Senate race where Connie Mack IV is closing quickly against Senator Bill Nelson.

If Hasner does win, Jacobs would be a natural candidate for 2014 when term limits will force her out of her Broward Commission seat. However, let us hope it doesn’t come to that because despite the Democratic leanings of the district, chances are if Frankel loses Hasner will be in the seat for a long, long time.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.