It’s a common horror movie trope for the characters to mistakenly believe the monster is dead, only for it to rise up and torment them yet again. Former Congressman Alan Grayson (D-FL) is doing his best to mimic those frightening undead creatures, coming back time and again, hopping district to district, election to election, in a perennial bid for elected office. His latest effort has him targeting one of his fellow Democrats in an attempt to win back his former seat.
According to Marc Caputo at Politico, Grayson announced today that he intends to run in Florida’s 9th Congressional District, currently held by Rep. Darren Soto (D-FL), who successfully ran for the seat in 2016 when Grayson dropped out to run for Senate. Grayson was handed a decisive 58.9% to 17.7% loss in the Democratic primary by Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-FL), who would go on to lose the general election to Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL).
Grayson had only served two terms in the 9th District when he abandoned it to run for Senate. He had previously represented the 8th district, winning election in 2008 only to be swept out during the tea party wave in 2010.
His spot in the 9th was viewed as secure. First elected to that district in 2012 and reelected in 2014, Grayson benefited from a district drawn to be heavily Democratic. Due to Grayson’s name recognition and financial strength, it would have been shocking for a Democrat to challenge him in a primary and any Republican would have been facing a very uphill battle. Grayson is personally a multimillionaire and has been a darling of the progressive left on a national level for years — and a prolific fundraiser as a result. Grayson had $700,000 cash on hand in his campaign account at the end of March, reported Politico.
Democrats didn’t dare to challenge Grayson when he held the seat, but he is extending no such courtesy to Soto. It has not escaped notice that Grayson may have a chip on his shoulder about Soto, who defeated his wife, Dena Grayson, who had attempted to get elected to her new husband’s seat.
As Politico noted, Soto is at a disadvantage as far as fundraising goes — his $365,000 cash on hand is a little more than half what Grayson has — but he does have some key strengths. The District is 39% Hispanic, and Soto is Puerto Rican.
Soto is also expected to have the Democratic establishment rally around him. Grayson can get the progressive activists fired up, but has proven to be a magnet for scandal and controversy, to his electoral detriment. He barely won his own congressional district in the 2016 Senate primary, and Murphy swept virtually all of the endorsements from current and former Democratic elected officials, including President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, former Gov. Charlie Crist, former Sen. Bob Graham, and a long list of members of Congress, state legislators, and city and county officials.
“Alan is a nightmare,” Politico quoted a Democrat involved in Florida races. “He’s what we don’t want.”
Soto is determined to defend his seat. The race has certainly gotten more challenging with a well-funded firebrand like Grayson in the mix, but Soto is confident he’s a better fit for the district.
“This is a classic uniter v. divider race,” Soto said via text message. “I will continue to get the job done for our constituents and run for re-election on the issues that matter to us.”
The primary election in Florida will be August 28, 2018. The deadline for candidate qualifying for Congressional candidates is May 4, 2018.
Follow Sarah Rumpf on Twitter: @rumpfshaker.