After finishing a distant second in his bid for the Florida Democratic Senate nomination, Rep. Alan Grayson has few avenues for a political future in the state.
Fellow Democratic Rep. Patrick Murphy, who beat Grayson on Tuesday, was heavily favored by the party establishment, including the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, President Barack Obama and Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.
Grayson was defiant in an interview with the Orlando Sentinel, saying “I’m not going to be endorsing Patrick Murphy for sure.” He called Murphy a Republican, an allusion to the fact that Murphy changed parties shortly before he first ran for Congress.
Grayson was first elected to Congress in 2008. He quickly aggravated people with controversial remarks, like during the 2010 health care law debate, when he said the Republican plan for health care was for Americans to “die quickly.”
He lost his bid for re-election in 2010 but returned to Congress in 2012 from Florida’s safely Democratic 9th Congressional District, and he got right back on the nerves of his party’s establishment.
Grayson had the support of many in his party’s liberal base and he did lead in a few polls early in the race, but his style and attitude grated on many of his Democratic colleagues.
“He can be a very condescending, rude person to people who are trying to help,” said Eric Jotkoff, former communications director for the Florida Democratic Party.
Jotkoff pointed to one of the first times he met Grayson in person during a Florida party event in which Grayson got angry that Sen. Bill Nelson spoke longer than he did.
“His response was to call me an idiot and a stupid a–hole who didn’t deserve to have the job I had,” Jotkoff recalled.
Grayson faced further scrutiny after news came out about a hedge fund he operated, which the Office of Congressional Ethics said possibly violated federal law and House rules. It was that scrutiny that led Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid to call on him to drop out of the Senate race.
“Alan Grayson claims to be a progressive,” Reid said at the time, “but it seems like he has no moral compass.”
Still, many on the left continued to support Grayson, and he received the backing of Progressive Change Campaign Committee and Democracy for America in his Senate bid. Those endorsements were rescinded when allegations surfaced that Grayson had abused his ex-wife.
In a last-gasp fundraising appeal sent out Tuesday, Grayson went off on “corrupt party bosses controlling the un-Democratic Party.”
Jotkoff said Grayson’s baggage largely limits his chances for a political future in Florida.
“He did have at one point a large following, the ability to raise money and a progressive appeal that could have caught fire in this campaign,” Jotkoff said.
Grayson also faced the double indignity of seeing his wife lose her primary race to succeed him in the House. Dena Grayson finished third, a hundred or so votes behind runner-up Susannah Randolph. Both finished with 28 percent of the vote, 8 points behind winner Darren Soto.
Grayson’s daughter Star is the family’s last hope — she’s on the November ballot for a seat on the Orange County Soil and Water Conservation Board of District Supervisors.