It would be better if the Democrats ran somebody for governor this year. It seems unsporting to let the probable Republican nominee, Bill McCollum, waltz into the job.
This is not out of any disrespect for McCollum. Rather my bias is always toward a good contest. So the Democrats ought to come up with a candidate, which, at last check, they have not done.
The trouble with Democrats (if you do not mind sweeping generalizations, and if you do, too bad) is that they run because they are convinced of their own merits, and that Republicans are bad. Yet they rarely remember to go about the crucial task of winning the most votes in the election. This is a tiresome flaw.
After all, there are more Democrats than Republicans in Florida, but you would not know it. The Republicans have a strong majority in the Legislature and all but one seat on the state Cabinet. Florida has had a Republican governor for the past 12 years straight and is leaning toward making it 16.
During that time, the Democrats have run some mighty fine people for governor, including Buddy MacKay in 1998, Bill McBride in 2002 and Jim Davis in 2006. They lost, respectively, to Jeb Bush, Jeb Bush and Charlie Crist.
The last Democrat who won a governor's race in Florida was Lawton Chiles over a rookie Jeb Bush in 1994 — 16 years ago! Despite Chiles' gigantic legacy and beloved memory, he did not win because he was a nice fellow, but because he knew how to get the most votes. Saint Lawton could throw a punch. He took a joy in beating Republicans that was pure FDR or, if you will, James Carville. The young Bush did not lose an ideological debate to Chiles; he lost a knife fight.
But for the Democrats since then — pish! They all ran the same race. They ran as if they were running for class president. They ran as if the winner would be chosen by a committee of philosophers. They ran as if the Governor's Mansion would go to the candidate with the highest SAT score. In short, they assumed that the people of the state had to recognize their merit sooner or later. This is always disastrous.
These days, some people say that Alex Sink, our state's chief financial officer and the only Democrat in the Cabinet, would be a good candidate for governor. Since she has not actually engaged in a campaign so far, it is impossible to tell how she would do in one, but the road map of what she should not do is crystal clear.
She cannot hem and haw her way into the job. She cannot duck questions, dodge issues, or run and hide inside her office whenever somebody asks her something tough, while her oh-so-loyal, oh-so-protective, oh-so-worshipful aides cry out, "No more questions! No more questions!"
Nope. If Alex Sink were going to run for governor, she would need to get out there and stick it to the Republicans. If McCollum sues over the health care bill, she ought to sue him. She ought to go nuclear against the Legislature on a daily basis, even cuss at it in person a little bit, no matter how nice she is. Good grief! If a Democrat running for state office can't run against this Legislature, then the Florida Democratic Party ought to disband and turn the opposition over to somebody who can.
So in conclusion, this is why I hope the Democrats decide to run a candidate for governor this year after all. It would be so much more interesting than what we've got now.