GOP Gleeful That Grayson’s Getting Into Florida Senate Race
Updated 9:18 a.m. | Republican operatives are elated about Democratic Rep. Alan Grayson getting into the Senate race in Florida, saying the liberal firebrand’s bid will create headaches for Democrats up and down the ballot.
Grayson released a seven-minute-long video Thursday morning saying he’s running. The seat is open thanks to GOP Sen. Marco Rubio’s presidential bid , and is key as Democrats look to net the five seats necessary to ensure Senate control.
“I don’t work for them; I work for you,” Grayson said. “I am unbought, and unbossed. I own nothing to anyone but the People.”
Republicans say Grayson will push the Democrats’ preferred candidate in the contest — fellow Rep. Patrick Murphy — too far left in the primaries to win the Senate contest in this perennial swing state in the general election.
“It’s going to be a very messy primary,” said one national Republican operative. “And as far as the resources that are going to be spent in the primary, both staff and financial resources, it’s going to drain whoever the eventual nominee is.”
Republicans in both Washington and Florida add that Grayson’s penchant for controversial comments could also cause problems for other Democrats, who might be forced to answer for Grayson’s statements.
Grayson is notorious for his use of colorful language to attack Republicans , comments that endear him to the far-left faction of the Democratic Party. He’s called Republicans “knuckle-dragging neanderthals,” and said the GOP’s health care plan is for Americans to “die quickly.”
Some have likened the prospect of a Grayson candidacy to that of former Rep. Todd Akin, Missouri’s GOP Senate nominee whose comments about “legitimate rape” in 2012 were blamed for Republican losses in some Senate contests — and the opportunity of taking control of the chamber that year.
“If Grayson goes and says something completely insane, does Hillary Clinton then have to go answer the question about what Alan Grayson said?” one national Republican operative asked, adding that the same problem could trickle down to competitive House seats in the state. “It’s going to be a headache for other people running in Florida depending on what he says and how much traction he gets.”
National Democrats, who are squarely behind Murphy, downplayed Grayson’s potential impact on Florida contests in 2016.
“Democrats have been ignoring Alan Grayson for years — there’s no reason for his Senate candidacy to change that,” one national Democratic source told CQ Roll Call.
And Democrats say that Murphy, a prolific fundraiser whose moderate record in Congress makes him the ideal candidate for the race, will be able to exploit a handful of problems surrounding Grayson’s personal life.
A nasty divorce battle between Grayson and his estranged wife, Lolita, has left a trail of damning attacks in its wake.
Earlier this year, Grayson called Lolita a “gold digger” after a court hearing on an annulment agreement.
The couple’s five children also reportedly applied for government assistance in 2014, saying Grayson had cut the family off financially , despite his personal fortune. Grayson is the 17th wealthiest member of Congress on Roll Call’s annual list ranking members in wealth, with a minimum net worth of at least $26.2 million .
A potential ethics flap over two hedge funds incorporated in the Cayman Islands could also lead to trouble for Grayson. Both the potential ethical breech, as well as the fact Grayson runs offshore hedge funds, could be problematic even for those who support him.
Democratic operatives point out that Republicans have a crowded primary of their own. Rep. Ron DeSantis and Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera are running, with Rep. Jeff Miller expected to enter the race soon.
Florida’s Senate race is rated a Tossup by the Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report /Roll Call.
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