Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Will Grayson Be Re-Elected Following His House Floor Speech?

Summary: Alan Grayson is receiving national attention for a confrontational speech - will it help him or hurt him in the midterm elections?

By now, many Americans have seen this clip of Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL) telling the House floor that Republicans want sick individuals to “die quickly.”

He also referred to the healthcare crisis as “a holocaust” which he later apologized for.

Since the “die quickly” speech, he has become something of a thorn in the side of the Democratic leadership. House Republicans last week called on Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) to “rein in” the freshman Democrat from Florida.

Meanwhile, the NRCC - which already considered Grayson’s seat a top-targeted one - have ramped up their efforts to reclaim the moderately conservative district.

Even without the “die quickly” speech, it would be a competitive race. The Cook PVI for Florida’s 8th Congressional District is R+2, and Grayson’s first ever victory last year took place in a cycle that was favorable for Democrats. In fact, Grayson’s 52% win appears to be on the coattails of President Obama’s 52% in that district. Obviously, the President is not up for re-election next year, and midterm elections tend to be dangerous for the party in the White House.

Yet there has been some positive news for Grayson lately. Following that speech, his campaign raised $150,000 online from liberal donors in just 24 hours. While it would not be surprising if his opponent raised more, he currently has no opponent to worry about.

Beyond that, the Democrats are fairly well organized in Florida. In an online poll taken by the Orlando Sentinel, the majority of respondents side with Grayson.

Now, as many campaign workers know, those polls are not only unscientific, but completely distorted by the campaigns and parties. These organizations will get every activist they know to vote as many times as possible. So what a poll like this does demonstrate is how organized one side is over the other - and clearly the Democrats have the edge in this northern Florida district. (In fact, the way I found this poll was through an internet forum for Orlando-area conservatives, telling their fellow activists to vote in the poll and bring Grayson’s numbers down.)

And the lack of an opponent is beginning to trouble the GOP. Local Republican leaders in Florida guaranteed that they would defeat Grayson in 2010 - immediately following his 2008 election - and they say it’s time to get the ball rolling.

So far, one prospective opponent - Orange County Mayor Rich Crotty - has said he will not run. Former State Senator Daniel Webster is “considering” along with State Rep. Steve Precourt and State Senator Andy Gardiner.

The only candidate who has announced is retired pilot Dan Fanelli, a tea party activist. When asked about Fanelli, Orange County GOP Chairman Lew Oliver said “who?” and added that the activist “may be unrealistic about his chances.”

However, Webster has said he will make his decision by the end of the week. When asked about Grayson, Webster told the Orlando Sentinel that when he was in the State Legislature he made sure “not to burn any bridges or make it personal. Congressman Grayson would have done well to heed that advice.”

If he does have an experienced and respected challenger like Webster, Grayson will certainly face a tough re-election. Sure, those speeches might have brought in some money, but money isn’t everything - even in politics. The Democratic Party is probably as organized and popular as they’ve ever been in that district, but they’ll also be focused on other races next year, such as the open Senate seat.

The fact is that he’s created a good deal of embarrassment for himself, to the extent that every news-savvy American has heard about it. Even with over a year before the midterm election, that’s not something they’ll forget easily.

It's still too early to say if he'll win his re-election or not, but I think it's safe to say the "die quickly" speech has done Grayson more harm than good.

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