Frank Artiles

Senate Dems: Screw Georgia!

After urging fellow Democrats last week to be clear about why they “suck significantly less” than Republicans, Sen. Jeff Clemens is using last night’s Democratic losses in Georgia and South Carolina to drum up support for a critical special election in Miami.

“Georgia?! Screw that, we can actually WIN in Florida,” the subject line in an email sent by Clemens, a Lake Worth Democrat who’ll take over as minority leader next year, reads.

Clemens, in charge of raising money for Senate races, pointed out the differences between Senate District 40 — now open after former Sen. Frank Artiles, a Republican, was forced to resign earlier this year — and the  congressional seat.

The Georgia race, reportedly the most expensive in history, was viewed nationally as a referendum on President Donald Trump.

“I know we’re upset. But if we spend our time worrying about a Congressional seat we normally lose by 20-30 points, we’re missing the real fight. The seats Dems lost last night were aspirational. They were seats no Democrat was supposed to win, we overperformed, etc. blah blah blah ad nauseum ad hominim expecto patronous,” Clemens wrote. “Whatever. Here’s the bottom line. Now is NOT the time to give up. Not when we have winnable races that matter.”

expecto patronum Clemens’s missive should delight Harry Potter fans.

The wizard invoked the “expecto patronous” (“I await a protector”) incantation to protect himself from Dementors.

Clemens goes on to advise that Democrats can win the Miami Senate seat, which Hillary Clinton carried last year.

“The most important thing about last night was it was proof that Dems can challenge almost any seat, if they have the following:

  • A belief by Democrats well outside of the district that this race mattered and was winnable (as evidenced by the massive contributions to the campaign).
  • Intense amounts of volunteerism, both inside and outside of the state.
  • A willingness from both the campaign and the GA Democratic party to put differences and convention aside and have fun while winning.

Here at Flip Florida, we believe these are lessons that have direct application to SD40 here in Florida.”

The keys to winning, Clemens concludes, are money, “sign ups, likes and followers,” and one other thing not usually included in fundraising pitches —- “love (We just need it … Makes campaigning easier).”

Democrats Annette Taddeo and Ana Rivas Logan will face off in the special election primary on July 25. On the Republican side, state Rep. Jose Felix Diaz, former state Sen. Alex Diaz de la Portilla and lawyer Lorenzo Palomares are vying for the chance to replace Artiles, who was forced to step down after a vulgar tirade at a private club in Tallahassee. The special general election for the Miami-Dade County District 40 seat is slated for Sept. 26.

DLP — Alex — looking for comeback…again

30221_122412807771468_6180180_nFormer state Sen. Alex Diaz de la Portilla, part of a Miami-Dade political dynasty, is mulling a return to the upper chamber, an opportunity made possible by the recent resignation of former Sen. Frank Artiles.

Artiles, R-Miami, stepped down Friday amid a firestorm over a public tirade that included racially charged and vulgar expletives. The targets of Artiles’s alleged tongue-lashing at the members-only Governor’s Club near the Capitol included Senate President Joe Negron and his GOP leadership team.

The Diaz de la Portilla clan have played a major role in Miami-Dade politics for decades, and Alex DLP (as he was known in the Capitol) served as  majority leader from 2008-2010 before being term-limited out of Senate.

He made an unsuccessful run for the House — where he served before being elected to the Senate — in 2012, losing a heated contest to Jose Javier Rodriguez, a Democrat who also defeated Alex’s brother, Miguel, in a battle over a redrawn Senate seat last November.

But, in a call to The News Service of Florida Wednesday afternoon, Alex DLP said he’s seriously pondering a run for SD 40, a Western Miami-Dade seat. DLP, who represented portions of the district for six years, said he is well-suited for the post.

“I know them and they know me. I have a proven track record of being an effective senator, providing good constituent service and also getting along with my colleagues in Tallahassee, with other senators of all groups, of all parties. That’s important in the Senate,” he said.

The Senate is “a very collegial body” that needs “somebody with stability at this time of crisis,” he said.

State Rep. Jose Felix Diaz has been widely considered a favorite to run for the seat. The Miami Republican is one of House Speaker Richard Corcoran’s leadership team, and is playing a major role in negotiating a gambling package with the Senate, Gov. Rick Scott’s administration and the Seminoles.

Alex DLP, who spent 16 years in the Legislature, said he’s already proven himself to be an effective senator.

“We need someone who’s a proven senator, a successful senator, and someone who knows the community,” DLP, 52, said. “So I’m very strongly considering running and I’ll make a decision rather quickly because there’s going to be a special election, and I think the people in this district need a good senator. An even handed senator, a level-headed senator, a mature senator, that’s the kind of thing that will make for an effective advocate for people’s causes.”

Asked if that was a contrast to Artiles, Diaz de la Portilla pivoted.

“We need to move forward. What happened happened. I’m a person that looks to the future. I think now is the time to heal…and we need to move forward. And I think I’m the person who can best do that, to bring all communities in this district together,” he said.

— Posted by Dara Kam