Democrats Searching for Right Leftist to Challenge Sen. Rubio

Democrats are agonizing over which candidate should press Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., in the 2022 midterms, but having a progressive polar opposite to Rubio win a Democrat primary might just ultimately reelect the Republican incumbent.

“It’s not enough in the Florida primary to go be the firebrand ultra-liberal,” South Florida Democrat consultant Christian Ulvert told Politico. “It doesn’t get a dedicated lane, and it hurts you in the general.”

It will ultimately be such a left vs. right Senate battle, it is more about the mechanics of winning an election than winning ideology, according to Democrat consultant Kevin Cate.

“Republicans have gone so far right, it’s more about who can excite and execute and win the general election than it is about any wedge issues,” Cate told Politico.

Florida Democrats have a losing record in statewide races for governor and Senate the past 2 decades, as the state is a microcosm of the nation’s political schism, but Democrats fear going moderate will merely hand Rubio reelection, Politico reported.

Among the candidates to challenge Rubio, according to Politico, are:

  • Rep. Stephanie Murphy, D-Fla.
  • George Soros-backed Black Democrat Aramis Ayala.
  • Alan Grayson.

“We need a fresh start,” Ayala told Politico. “We know Florida has changed dramatically, but its leadership at the top has not changed.”

While 29% of Florida’s registered Democrats are Black, former Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum failed to defeat Gov. Ron DeSantis in 2018.

“I don’t see any of the progressives right now who fit that mold,” a Democrat consultant said of Gillum, who won a primary because several moderate Democrats split the vote.

Murphy is more the centrist who might appeal to moderates, while Ayala said she is “comfortable in my position in moving Florida is a progressive way,” Politico reported.

“If you’re pro-environment and green economy, pro-affordable housing and you believe that we need to take bold action to address the crippling crisis of race and income equality in America — you fall in line with the progressive arm of the party,” former Florida Democratic Party Executive Director Juan PeƱalosa told Politico. “A candidate who stands up for these issues can absolutely win in Florida.”

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