A Political Rebirth?

24 01 2009

By Kartik Krishnaiyer

On Friday the St Petersburg Times Buzz Blog reported that Rick Dantzler, one of the most intelligent and qualified Democrats in Florida is considering a political comeback. Dantzler has been out of office since resigning his State Senate seat in 1998 and has not sought office since dropping out of the race for Agriculture Commission in in 2001.

Dantzler is from Winter Haven which has always been the right part of the state to run from. From 1941 to 1989, Polk County produced one of Florida’s two US senators and of course from 1991 through 1998 a Governor as well. Polk County is perceived a rural and small townish much like the Panhandle, but may Tallahassee politicos don’t realize the sheer number of people that live in the sleepy southern styled county.

On a trip to meet with Rick Dantzler during his Agriculture Commission race, I  discussed the value of a Polk County based candidate in the car with my fellow travelers, all of whom were Tallahassee residents. When I cited the population numbers for the area and the general appeal those who get elected in county generally have statewide, we had a general consensus: Polk County is perhaps the best political base in the state to run from. (For those wondering Polk County had close to 600,000 residents according to the 2007 population estimates, which is about 2 1/2 times as many people as Leon or Alachua Counties).

During that campaign for Agriculture Commissioner Dantzler impressed me as he had in 1998 when he ran for Governor and then LT. Gov. with his command of state issues and his understanding of localized problems throughout different parts of Florida. But Dantzler’s head wasn’t in the Agriculture Commissioner race. I was tasked with accompanying him to a speech at the Indian River DEC’s annual dinner. There,  Dantzler gave his speech, then left before the dinner was complete heading home on SR 60 late at night and towards political oblivion. He dropped out of the race soon thereafter.

But in this time of economic crisis and absent leadership in this state, someone like Rick Dantzler is sorely needed in state government. The St Pete Times indicated that he was interested in the Congressional seat that will presumably be vacated by Adam Putnam who is likely to run for Agriculture Commissioner. Dantzler, a moderate Democrat who is more of a problem solver than an ideologue should consider running for Governor instead of Congress.

Florida is currently governed by a lightweight with a second rate mind whose every move is dictated by political considerations. Our state needs a non political problem solver whose not going to make rash decisions based on the current headwinds in the state. Dantzler would be one of the best potential Democrats who could run for Governor. Another would be Mayor Buddy Dyer of Orlando, who served with Dantzler in the State Senate.  Dyer and Dantzler ironically worked together with Attorney General Butterworth to create a piece of legislation to save the Tobacco lawsuit of Governor Chiles in 1996 while Senator Crist and his co-horts in the Republican Party were working to repeal to law that allowed for the suit.

Dantzler’s talents and expertise are needed in Florida: not just by the Democrats but by the state. Hopefully he’ll jump back into politics and seek a state office rather than a federal one.

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9 responses

24 01 2009
Price Nelson

I think Rick would be a great Governor or U.S. Senator, and I would work tirelessly to make it so. As for the FL-12 seat supposedly being vacated by Putnam, I hope Doug Tudor runs again. He has a very bright future in elected office.

24 01 2009
Proud Florida Liberal

I never got the fascination with Dantzler.

Perhaps Kartik, having obviously worked for him you can enlighten us?

24 01 2009
kkfla737

I never got the fascination with Dantzler.

Part of it was he was a fresh face that came on the scene at a time when the Democrats fortunes were waning statewide.

As a political moderate from Polk County he also had the most natural base a Democrat needed to win statewide.

Perhaps Kartik, having obviously worked for him you can enlighten us?

Dantzler is one of the most worldly Democrats I’ve worked for or with in Florida. Many politicians in this state in both parties are solely focused on Florida and have no real sense of the world beyond state government. They certainly don’t have any sense of world affairs, especially the Democrats. Dantzler was different and because he’s so well read and studied he probably can endure being out of office for ten years better than most as a candidate.

24 01 2009
Msbarg

Dantzler should run for Governor.

Dyer would be a terrible candidate. Didn’t he go to jail briefly and was suspended from office a few years back?

25 01 2009
Calliope

I don’t know anything about Dantlzer but I agree with Msbarg. Dyer just seemed kind of skeezy when he ran for AG. And I too remember him being in the news as Mayor for something controversial. We need someone clean to run for Governor.

25 01 2009
Anonymous

I love this new website and everything you bring to the table.

But seriously you’ve made your first huge error by suggesting a scandal plagued Dyer for Governor. Dyer’s scandals aren’t just the ones in the media, but ones behind the surface related to patronage and the behavior of his staff.

Dantzler is squeaky clean. Maybe too much so: that’s why he always had trouble raising money. But he’d be a good Governor, but maybe like Davis a bad candidate.

26 01 2009
Publius

The Florida Democrats have really missed Rick Dantzler. He would be an excellent candidate for Congress or Governor (I think Gelber would likely be better for the U.S. Senate). It would be great to see him on the political scene again. In 2010, I predict an R+5 seat will be a difficult one for Democrats to hold, should Putnam resign. I think it would be great to see Rick and/or Alex Sink run for Governor. I think Dyer would be good too, if he can get beyond the charges of the past, which I believe were more of a political witch-hunt.

26 01 2009
Anonymous

Dyer’s people and other proponents can claim the charges were politically motivated, but they were still made and as someone mentions above it was just the tip of the iceberg.

I have heard through the grapevine of staff impropriety and improper dealings with vendors.

Dantzler is clean ans Sink would be great also.

Dyer has been a good mayor because like other big city politicians he’s dirty and can use corruption to advance Orlando’s cause with contractors and vendors.

1 02 2009
Katrina

Rick who? Haven’t heard of him and the bit I’ve researched – he failed to raise sufficient funds! and this was when the economy was still in the “denial” phase.

Looking at the hiring of a DC firm, paying them $7,500/month to help raise money – and they failed, he failed, and the intelligence of hiring outsiders to raise local money? On a campaign that wasn’t raising sufficient money anyhow? How intelligent is this candidate? away from the courthouse, that is.

Nope, I’m sticking with Doug Tudor – the only American Hero in this race, and even though he got NO support from the Florida Democrats … he almost beat Opie. Alone. Doug and the grassroots – and where was Rick last year supporting Doug?

Rick seems to put himself, and his personal agenda, before the people of Florida. Not quite the Public Servant I want fighting my issues.

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