Has Grayson awaken the mighty GOP giants?

11 01 2009

By David M. Trotter

Florida’s 8th Congressional District has been a weird one to say the least.

In 2000, unknown conservative attorney Ric Keller pulled off two upsets, defeating moderate State Representative Bill Sublette in the GOP primary, and popular Democratic Orange County Chair Linda Chapin in the general.

In this past election, Keller (a four term Congressman by now) was defeated by the liberal multi-millionaire Alan Grayson. Grayson’s political ideology is not exactly what this mostly Orange County district has seen.

Early indications are that Grayson will have quite a liberal voting record. During the campaign, he didn’t hide the fact that he spent his time prosecuting war profiteers, and he also was proud of his liberal endorsements, like Democracy for America, which he proudly touted on his website.

But will Grayson hold on to the seat? Is Grayson the next Nancy Boyda, just a temporary replacement until the real GOP candidate arrives?

The Republicans are already talking about targeting his seat. Todd Long, the Republican who nearly defeated Keller in the 2008 primary, has already indicated to the Orlando Sentinel that he would be interested in seeking the seat again. But Long was just the anti-Keller Republican in 2008. Will his baggage be enough to win him the GOP nomination or the general election this time? I doubt it.

Still, the Republicans have a number of big hitters to run. The top two candidates that have to be considered for this seat is former Florida House Speaker Dan Webster and Orange County Chairman Rich Crotty. Both of these candidates are conservative enough to rally the base and have enough connections to bring in the kind of cash that will be needed to take on Grayson.

Others that have to be considered are Bill Sublette, Glenda Hood, Andy Gardiner, Randy Johnson and, possibly, Ric Keller again.

Bill Sublette will be the choice of many moderate Republicans. But many indications are that he will run for the newly created Orange County School Board Chair position. Glenda Hood have high name ID, but does she have any ambitions to continue in elected office? Who knows.

Andy Gardiner is another name that area voters know. But Gardiner just won his State Senate seat, and will more than likely stay put. Randy Johnson is a former State Representative from West Orange County. But has he been out of the game too long? Do people remember him?

And then there is finally Ric Keller. Will he run for his seat again? Anne Northrup of Kentucky proved that seeking your old seat might bring disastrous results. Northrup lost here seat by nearly 18%.

So when Alan Grayson beat Keller in 2008, that might have been the easy task. The GOP giants have been awaken, and are ready to sink their teeth into this seat.

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6 responses

11 01 2009
Proud Florida Liberal

Sublette cannot get through a GOP primary.

Randy Johnson would be strong. He still has name ID as head of the Citrus Bowl Committee and Orange County Sports authority and gained a statewide following on the slots issue.

Ultimately Grayson will sink or swim based on how he tends to his constituency. As someone who was concerned about his campaigns in the primary in 2006 and 2008 he is way too Washington and not enough Florida for the district long term. But now that’s in we need to support him. Hopefully he will actually live in Orlando and not in DC, since he’s actually lived in DC for years.

11 01 2009
8th District Republican

The issue in this race in money. Grayson is worth $62 million dollars–he will spend what it takes to get re-elected.

Crotty and Webster have both raised taxes while in the Florida Senate and Hood is disliked just as much as Crotty. Crotty and Webster have never run “real” campaigns before. Just not sure if they have what it takes to run in what will be a nasty congressional race…

Folks must remeber as well that the 8th district has more registered D’s than R’s. Dems have a good ground game and the R’s need to follow.

I do very much agree with proud florida liberal, it will depend on Grayson himself. If he’s crazy in DC, this seat will a piece of cake for republicans.

11 01 2009
AVR

Grayson is a strong take no prisoners campaigner.

Charlie Stuart and Rick Keller both learned this.

I agree with Proud Florida Liberal that Randy Johnson would be strong. Statewide network, and a moderate reputation. Webster hasn’t had a tough race since beating Dick Batchelor in the 1980s. Crotty? Nah, he’s a local yokel.

11 01 2009
L.T. Marcus

Grayson is going to lock down this seat for the Dems for the foreseeable future. The COP would be better off trying to unseat Ron Klein in FL-22 rather than going after a gazzilionaire.

12 01 2009
Msbarg

For the GOP to unseat Grayson with all his money they are going to need a wave election.

Something on the order of 1994. I think that could happen in 2010 if Obama screws up, but they are not going to win this seat back on local issues. Orlando is just trending too Democratic when it comes down to it.

14 01 2009
dccoulthard

Remember, Crotty is term limited.

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