originally posted on rantsofrob.com
Faye Armitage, the 2008 Democratic US House nominee who raised $32,929 and suffered a twenty-four point defeat to Seventh District Congressman and all-around parasite John Mica, told me tonight that she is still “testing the waters” and that her decision would hinge on how successful her fund-raising efforts were. She did not choose to quantify her money test, nor to comment on the persistent rumors about her decision to drop out of the race.
No Democrat, however well-funded, has made a dent in John Mica since 1992, so Ms. Armitage is not to blame for the size of her defeat, but I fail to see what has changed since 2008 to change her fund-raising chances. John Mica will run a campaign specifically designed to deny an opponent the chance to confront him in public. He has the backing of the business community and of his Party and will point to the truckloads of pork he has shipped into the District. In the lower-turnout race likely to happen in 2010, there will be only a small number of votes on the table and DPI will be under 40%.
When the Florida Legislature redraws District boundaries for the 2012 cycle, Mica, if still in office, will have an opportunity to retire gracefully and hand a safe seat to another right-wing water-carrier for business interests. This is probably the best chance for a Democrat to poach the seat before 2016 or 2018. If Armitage can build a fund-raising and message team capable of closing the name-recognition, culture and ideological gaps that stand between her and the District’s swing voters, then I wish her well. But not yet seeing a difference in tactics between cycles, I’ll suspend judgment.
None of the Democrats that have run against Mica since 2002 have had any record of elected office, so they faced a name-recognition and credibility gap that made the already-difficult task of knocking off an incumbent almost impossible. We all want to see an insurgent, small-donor campaign beat a troglodyte like Mica, but a Party hack who’s paid her dues would have a real shot and not simply be fighting the good fight.
The one veteran politican to come anywhere this race was four-term former State Rep. Joyce Cusack, who rumor has it, had contemplated a run. I suspect that if the DCCC targets the seat for its Red-to-Blue project to flip poachable Republican seats, Cusack and other candidates would enter the race. Or maybe it would be the other way around.
There are, of course, three other Democrats running for the seat, two announced and filed and one testing the waters. But Peter Silva, Stephen Bacon and Heather Beaven are all political newcomers. Beaven seems most able to sell a compelling narrative, but even she could do everything right, get every available dollar, and still be defeated by low DPI, low turnout, the name recognition gap, a free-media drought, and good old-fashioned public apathy and ignorance. Meanwhile, of course, many local Republican State Legislators are going unopposed.
I’m continually amazed that anyone chooses to run in this kind of race, and I’ve been right there with a few insurgent candidates myself. I admire them, but I wish I could inject some of my hard-nosed perspective into their decision to run and for which office. I wish they could understand, as I do, that these races are less tests of ideology and character than numbers games.
Of course, if everybody were Party hacks, I wouldn’t be in the Party …