Democrats may have a better chance with Richardson running as their nominee over Congressman Murphy.
By Sean David Hartman
With the recent Special Election in Pennsylvania’s 18th Congressional District, a District once solidly in the Trump/Pence camp, chose surprisingly to go to a Democrat, Former US Assistant Attorney Conor Lamb, many Democrats has seen this as a bellwether, a symbol of the Resistance. And though that is probably unlikely, there are some similarities between Congressman-Elect Lamb and one Democrat running in Orlando, Chardo Richardson.
Both Congressman Lamb and Chardo both are military veterans who stand against special interest money. The two did seem to vary significantly, as Congressman Lamb is a centrist and Richardson an all-in social democrat in the style of Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT). In addition, though Congressman Lamb did not take special interest money directly, he allowed lobbyists to raise funds for him, whereas Richardson has eschewed all special interest help.
But the main similarities between the two may be the bigger lesson for both Democrats and Republicans, and that is the fact that politics is local.
During the 2016 Presidential Election, many Democrats, as well as the Clinton/Kaine campaign, made the election not about solutions or issues facing their electorate, but about Donald Trump (R-NY) and his many flaws and vices. The Trump/Pence campaign combatted with actual solutions to issues. You may agree or disagree with the issues, but he ran a solutions-based campaign.
It was for that reason that President Trump and Republicans were able to succeed in major victories when every expert felt that he would lose, and that Democrats would retake the Senate. Republicans fought for something, Democrats fought against something.
This Democratic trend repeated, with hopes dashed in almost every Special Election, including the Georgia Special Election where there most prominent hopeful, Democrat Jon Ossoff, was defeated by Former Republican State Secretary of State Karen Handel. Ossoff and the Democrats felt the best campaign strategy was to tie Secretary Handel and the Republicans to President Trump. But Secretary Handel made the issues local.
Mind you, this strategy has worked in one local race—when Winter Park Democrat Stephanie Murphy defeated Winter Park Republican Congressman John Mica. Murphy and the Democrats were able to successfully connect Congressman Mica with Trump, who was at the time unpopular not just with Democrats, but many Orange County Republicans, including those in Leadership positions such as Chairman Oliver, who has openly stated he wants President Trump impeached. That, combined with Murphy promoting herself as a centrist and a fiscal conservative, was able to bring in several Republicans who would have otherwise supported Congressman Mica.
But that strategy may not work effectively now. Congressman Mica had openly endorsed Trump, and even appeared at Trump/Pence rallies across Central Florida. Of the three major Republican candidates, two of them were never enthusiastically pro-Trump, and at least one is allegedly still opposed to President Trump. And all three candidates, whether tacit or openly supportive or not of the President, are making this campaign about the issues, distancing themselves from the unpopular leader.
It is safe to say Congressman Murphy’s campaign strategy of linking the Republicans to President Trump will likely fail her this time around. And as someone who has, at least to my knowledge, been relatively absent in her District outside of schmoozing with special interest leaders, it seems she will be unable to make the politics local as she hasn’t been local.
Compare that to Richardson, who has been promoting his progressive agenda to multiple grassroots organizations, meeting with the People of Central Florida and talking to them one-on-one. The Richardson For Congress campaign does not seem to be focusing on Republicans or President Trump, but rather on the issues Richardson feels are affecting the People of Central Florida.
Recently, Congresswoman Murphy was up in DC busy angering the progressive base she needs to win, voting for the “Save Local Businesses Act.” The bill is strongly opposed by labor unions, due to its weakening of the Fair Labor Standards Act.
Democrats may have a better chance with Richardson running as their nominee over Congressman Murphy. Richardson has been making grassroots moves since Day One, and it should concern the Democratic Party if Congresswoman Murphy was to use the same tactics as she did last election. Democrats using those tactics fail, but Democrats who focus on the issues win.
Sean David Hartman is a freelance reporter for the Central Florida Post, with a wide portfolio ranging from entertainment to politics. He is a centrist political operative and blogger and a student at UCF. Hartman is autistic and bipolar, and supports the neurodiversity movement.