Like the first day of a baseball season, all political campaigns begin with a ray of hope. And then day two arrives, when reality settles in that the candidate who touted himself as a bold, visionary figure of courage, grit and independence turns out to have all the electoral prospects of Rod Blagojevich.
So it was probably inevitable that Florida Senate President Mike Haridopolos would abandon his hapless campaign for the U.S. Senate.
After all, in recent weeks the Haridopolos camp had become more dysfunctional than the cast of Desperate Housewives. It is never a good sign when departing staffers racing for the door look like the Filene's Basement running of the brides.
It didn't help that the candidate could not distance himself from his phony Brevard Community College book deal, which paid him $152,000 to pen the unreadable, simplistic and barely published Florida History & Legislative Processes, which made Horton Hatches the Egg read like James Joyce's Ulysses.
It was not a real smart public relations move to park a campaign consultant, Arlene DiBenigno, in a do-nothing $75,000-a-year taxpaper-funded job on the Haridopolos Senate staff as a minority outreach director. To be fair, she did admit to speaking Spanish once.
And it probably didn't bode well when you have a candidate whose speaking style on the stump comes across as Alvin & the Chipmunks on a helium high.
Jeepers, Haridopolos, who claimed to be more conservative than the Koch brothers, even managed to get thrown off the air on some obscure right-wing yapper's radio show for practically invoking the Fifth Amendment when he was asked about Rep. Paul Ryan's health care plan.
You could get straighter answers out of Whitey Bulger.
So it was that the dead pol campaigning decided to run away from the hustings with the usual palaver about not giving up the fight he just gave up and working ever harder to turn Florida into the envy of Sudan.
Indeed, Haridopolos predicated his withdrawal on the premise that he simply couldn't serve both as Florida Senate president and run as a Republican U.S. Senate candidate to clean up the "mess" in Washington. This from a Senate president who already has done a splendid job of creating a nuclear winter of a legislative mess in Tallahassee.
With the departure of the author of Dick & Jane Go to Tallahassee, the Republican U.S. Senate field is now reduced to retired U.S. Special Operations Col. Mike McCalister, who could kill you with his adenoids if he wanted; former Ruth's Chris Steak House executive Craig Miller; former U.S. Sen. George LeMieux; and former Florida House Majority Leader Adam Hasner.
With McCalister and Miller considered long shots, the pragmatic choice for Florida Republican primary voters is between the backstabbing LeMieux and Hasner, who is wooing the crazy as a loon wing of the party. It was LeMieux who turned on his mentor, former Gov. Charlie Crist, after he was handed a political career on a platter to fill out the term of Sen. Mel Martinez, who quit when he discovered he was expected to show up in Washington now and then.
When the governor had the audacity to leave the Republican Party in his failed U.S. Senate bid in 2010, LeMieux reacted as if his old friend and patron had joined a Mexican drug cartel. Meanwhile, Hasner has contented himself by conjuring up images of Hitler and proudly bragging about his anti-Islamist credentials in a craven effort to persuade tea party hand-wringers that: a) he is more loopy than they are and/or: b) it is only a matter of time before sharia law takes hold in America and you won't be able to get a drink even in Las Vegas.
It is probably fitting that Haridopolos decided to rededicate himself to serving out his term as Senate president in guiding the state back to the 18th century and spending the obligatory more time with his family. When you can't get traction against two people with less name recognition than the vice president of Guatemala, plus a candidate with no sense of loyalty and another running on the "We're All Doomed!" platform, you're in trouble.
In his bailout announcement, the Senate president promised he would not be a candidate for any office this year, or next. Thanks for the tip. Otherwise, how would anyone have noticed?