Democrats are desperate for political candidates with pizazz

Which brings us to … um … well … hardly anyone.

Though Democrats can feel good about moderate U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson keeping the party's only statewide seat, Florida's fate isn't decided in congressional elections. It's decided in state ones.

And right now, Democrats are such a minority in the legislature, they don't have the votes to pass gas, much less meaningful legislation.

They're outnumbered 28-12 in the Senate and 81-39 in the state House.

The prospects for changing that are slim unless Democrats can change their decade-long habit of fielding uninspiring candidates.

So who's to blame?

The party, in some instances.

"There hasn't been effective candidate recruitment," said State Rep. Scott Randolph, D-Orlando.

But Randolph also blames the business community, saying the best candidates are supported by their bosses, who give them both time to campaign and donations, the mother's milk of modern politics.

Morgan says many companies gave up fielding promising young Democrats once Republicans had a chokehold on Tallahassee. "If you win, you're on Charlie Brown's baseball team," he said. "I don't know who would undergo the pain for so little gain."

Gerrymandering and the power of incumbency are also a wickedly potent combination. Money flows to those already in power. And financially, Florida Republicans have pounded their Democratic peers.

Still, with Fair Districts offering the promise of more competitive districts — and popularity among Republicans in Tallahassee at record lows — Florida Dems have momentum.

"I feel good," Randolph said. "People are energized. It's easy to get people excited when you've got somebody like Rick Scott in office."

As proof, they raised a record $700,000 just last weekend.

Still, Democrats will have to give voters a reason to cast ballots for them; candidates who inspire both confidence and passion, something they've lacked in recent years.

Both Randolph and Morgan agree.

Plus, Morgan says Democrats have one other thing going for them: "You can't go lower than the basement … unless you go subterranean."

smaxwell@tribune.com or 407-420-6141

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