Monday, September 24, 2018
Politics

Romano: Drunk, fat and shrewd is one way to win the Governor's Mansion in Florida

One of the more intriguing potential candidates for governor has an unapologetic love affair with booze.

He's filthy rich, and not ashamed to remind you of that. On his best days he can be a charming SOB, and on his worst he can be an annoying one. He would be reckless as a candidate, and unpredictable as a governor.

So how, you ask, can Democrats possibly support John Morgan?

If they're smart, with open arms.

Whether they recognize it or not, Morgan is the great white collar hope of the Democratic Party in Florida. He is a liberal with a ruthless comportment. The antithesis of the snowflake caricature that Republicans have shrewdly concocted for the perpetually hand-wringing Democrats.

And all the left has to do is convince Morgan to run.

Because he certainly seems as if he wants to. Appearing before the Suncoast Tiger Bay Club last week, Morgan basically said he was trying to gauge voter interest in going steady with him.

So if I may offer Democrats some advice:

Pucker up.

Would Morgan be a flawed candidate? Absolutely. Is there a chance he could self-immolate on the campaign trail? Oh, yeah. But to quote Bob Dylan, when you ain't got nothing, you've got nothing to lose. And Democrats in Florida have had next-to-nothing for a very long time.

Starting with the 2000 election, Democrats have won four of 23 statewide races. If you take Bill Nelson out of the equation, they've won one of 20.

That would be a pretty awful average in Wyoming, where 67 percent of registered voters are Republican, but it's downright humiliating in Florida, where Democrats outnumber the GOP. And you can't blame gerrymandering when it comes to statewide U.S. Senate, governor and Cabinet races.

The best explanations are that Democrats have fielded such weak candidates that they can't even get their own people to come to the polls, or else they've completely ceded independents to the Republicans.

Either way, it might be time for Democrats to rethink their strategy.

And that's where Morgan comes in.

His views are certainly liberal. He was behind the medical marijuana push, and now suggests recreational marijuana should also be legalized and taxed. He believes in raising the minimum wage and supports automatic restoration of voting rights for non-violent felons.

The difference with Morgan is that he doesn't come across as your typical touchy-feely liberal. He's coarse. He's brash. He's not afraid to offend, and actually seems to enjoy it on occasion.

In that sense, he has a lot of the Donald Trump factor in his favor. For obvious reasons he hates that comparison, but Morgan will appeal to voters who see him as a regular guy on the neighboring bar stool as opposed to some out-of-touch politician.

He's also got a scamp's charm and a backstory that will play well on the campaign trail. And, unlike Trump, who inherited a fortune, Morgan made his own millions as an attorney.

More than anything, he's an outsider who can define himself as a friend of the working-class Floridian, as opposed to the growing perception of a stereotypical Democrat who is beholden to too many special interest groups.

His candidacy would certainly force Democrats to confront a lot of questions. Are they willing to acknowledge they have a perception problem by supporting a non-traditional candidate? Are they willing to risk a shot at the Governor's Mansion on such a wild card? Are they better off running an anti-Trump campaign with a safer candidate such as Gwen Graham?

All good questions. But to me, a Morgan candidacy is the answer to the most important question:

Are Democrats finally tired of losing?

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