Scott and GOP’s plans fire Dems for ’12 campaignsby John Kennedy | February 27th, 2011
Gov. Rick Scott and the Florida Legislature’s ruling Republicans have kicked over a political hornet’s nest by promoting budget cuts, pension overhauls and civil justice changes, which are now emerging as targets for statewide rallies by Democratic-allied organizations.
The GOP’s tough medicine for a state pocked by foreclosures and almost 12 percent unemployment may be breathing life into a Florida Democratic Party, virtually left for dead after wholesale election defeats last fall. It also may effectively prove the opening round of the 2012 presidential contest in the nation’s biggest battleground state.
“Democrats last fall were down and outspent,” said Susannah Randolph, campaign manager for defeated Orlando Democratic U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson and now an organizer of the March 8 rallies.
“Now we’re seeing that we have to respond to a threat level like DEFCON 1,” said Randolph, who also is a leader of Florida Watch Action. “And sure, we want to keep this energy going.”
Using a Facebook page, “Awake The State,” organizers are planning events in most major Florida cities on the legislature’s opening day. Although locations are still being determined, teachers and public employees’ unions, including police and firefighters, are forming the core of those protesting expected cuts in education, pensions and government workforces.
Counter-punching, tea party supporters are rallying behind Scott, and looking to converge on the state Capitol for the session’s launch, which coincides with the new governor’s first State of the State address.
Florida’s spring training season goes beyond baseball. The parties are gearing up for the 2012 campaigns by energizing their political bases around Scott and the Legislature’s plans.