Senator Marco Rubio’s premature entry into presidential politics has one immediately conspicuous downside: the very real possibility that his hard-won Senate seat could flip back to the Democrats in 2016. But first the Dems have one very large obstacle to overcome: sidelining the ultra-lefty, ultra-wacky, ultra-nasty Alan Grayson from making a play for it.
Democrats see a chance to pick up the Florida Senate seat being vacated by Republican Marco Rubio — but only if U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson stays out of the race. Democratic leaders fear Grayson could spoil the party’s chances for capturing the seat by challenging Democratic Rep. Patrick Murphy in the primary. Rubio is running for president instead of seeking a second term.
Grayson, who is considering a Senate run, is known for using fiery rhetoric to knock down opponents. He made headlines for describing the GOP health plan as “don’t get sick, and if you do get sick, die quickly.” He called a Republic opponent “Taliban Dan” in an effort to paint him as a religious extremist, compared the tea party to the Klu Klux Klan and called his estranged wife a gold digger during an explosive divorce.
Democratic leaders see Grayson, 57, as too inflammatory and too liberal to win a general election and have coalesced around Murphy, a 32-year-old accountant in his second congressional term. Party leaders see Murphy, who is the only prominent Democrat in the race so far, as a strong candidate and don’t want him bloodied by Grayson’s aggressive campaign tactics.
“I can’t support Alan Grayson,” said Rachel Pienta, a member of the state Democratic Party’s executive committee. “If Alan Grayson gets in and if Alan Grayson somehow manages to pull off the primary win, we lose the Senate seat.”
For his part, the churlish Grayson doesn’t give a damn what his fellow Democrats think:
Grayson says he’s probably running and will make an announcement in July. And he doesn’t care about what party leaders think. “The only Democrats that matter are the voters. It’s clear to me that if there’s a contested primary, we’ll win. We’ll have the black vote, the gay vote, the Hispanic vote, the labor vote and the liberal vote,” he said. “We’ll have it all.”
One wonders whether Rubio thought all this through before embarking on his quixotic quest for the GOP nomination. His party just reconquered the senate last year (and a fat lot of good that has done for conservatives) and needs every vote it can get as it faces what is likely to be a reduced majority at best. If Rubio did consider the ramifications of abandoning a seat he’s held for all of one term, and didn’t care, then he’s put himself above party; if he didn’t, he’s too irresponsible to run for president.