Will the African American voter in Florida show up in 2016?
By Roger Caldwell
As Governor Scott slashed $461 million in funding from the state budget, many noble projects which would have helped people throughout the state will be forced to do without. Scott tends to see people as line items on a spreadsheet, and he has no feelings. In many of these vetoes, it appeared that many of these cuts were a result of representatives who had crossed him.
In 2014, Scott won the governorship by 60,000 votes. The Democrat turnout was terrible, and African American votes in Florida were non-existent. There are 500,000 more registered Democrats than registered Re-publicans in Florida, and 2.3 million are registered as African Americans. When the African Americans in Florida vote as a block, they are extremely powerful.
Very few political strategists in the Florida Democratic Party consider the African American voters in the state important and significant. During the mid-term election, the African American turnout was poor, and in 2016, the Democratic Party will focus on the Latino vote.
But, it is a mistake in the Florida Democratic Party to ignore the African American voter because it is still growing, and the numbers still outpace the Hispanic vote by 15 to 20 per-cent. Charlie Crist was a Republican who many African Americans called “Chain-Gang Charlie,” so they stayed home. Personally, I am of the opinion that sometimes we are forced to vote in Florida for the best Republican or a semi-Democrat.
The Democratic Party Leadership recruited Republican/Independent Charlie Crist to run for governor as a Democrat, and now they are doing the same for the position of Florida Senator. U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy, who is a Republican masquerading as a Democrat and the Florida Democratic Party is supporting his campaign. Murphy, 32-year-old, has the support of many party leaders who see him as having a broader appeal for Democrats in the general election.
Last week, Rep. Alan Grayson entered the race for Florida Senator, and many African Americans are excited about his candidacy. Many African Americans believe that Grayson is an authentic Democrat who fights for Democratic principles with courage and conviction. Grayson has a record of fighting for economic equality, Medicaid expansion, supports ACA, pushing for better voting laws, comprehensive immigration reform, and supporting women’s rights.
Grayson has taken a poll in Florida and believes that the Democratic turnout in 2014 dropped off a cliff because in many races, there was no difference in the Republican and Democratic platform. In the governorship campaign, the Democrats only reason to vote for Charlie Crist was because he had seen the light, and he was now a Democrat. When Democrats, especially African Americans, do not see a difference between the candidates, Black’s don’t vote and they stay home.
If the Florida Democratic Party plan is to win in 2016, their focus must be on getting the African American voters excited about the candidates running for office. President Obama proved that Blacks and Hispanics will vote if they are mobilized, organized and educated. The Florida Democratic Party must recruit more African Americans in leadership positions, let more Blacks sit at the decision making table, and make our vote a priority in 2016.