Is House District 44 now Eric Eisnaugle’s To Lose?

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Photo courtesy of http://www.myfloridahouse.gov / Eric Eisnaugle

According to filed reports and an article by the Orlando Sentinel, former Republican Representative Eric Eisnaugle has raised over $245,000 for a special election to replace former Representative Steve Precourt in House District 44.

Eisnaugle is a household name for some Floridians as he served in the Florida House from 2008 to 2012 when he was drawn into the same district as Precourt after redistricting. Eisnaugle decided to wait until Precourt faced term limits in 2014 to run, but due to special circumstances, his time arrived sooner than planned.

Precourt decided to step down early to run the Orlando-Orange Country Expressway Authority Board but that decision didn’t work out in his favor.

Eisnaugle is facing former Orange County School Board member Vicky Bell and Democrat Shaun Raja.

While Eisnaugle has name recognition and the quiet backing of the Republican Party, or at least it seems so, Bell and Raja’s chance of winning hinge on their ability to raise money and to differentiate themselves.

For Raja, pointing out Eisnaugle’s voting record in Tallahassee may be a start. Red meat for Dems would include Eisnaugle’s ‘Yea’ vote on “Drug Screening for Temporary Assistance Beneficiaries,” “Permitting Offshore Drilling,” voting ‘Yea’ on certain reproductive amendments and etc…

Bell has to prove why she’s the better Republican over a man who spent four years of his life walking the halls of the Capitol building.

Even with the few dings on his voting record, Eisnaugle should be able to dispose of Raja when the general comes.

The primary election between Eisnaugle and Bell will occur on March 11th with the special election coming on April 8th.

-JH

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Is House Minority Leader Perry Thurston Another Black, Political Sacrificial Lamb?

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House Minority Leader Perry Thurston/Photo courtesy of mediatrackers.org

House Minority Leader Perry Thurston announced a couple of weeks ago that he will run to unseat Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi. Thurston is term limited in 2014 and many believed that he would either slide back to the private sector or take some time off to explore future political options.

Not many received the impression that Thurston would run for attorney general in 2014.

Thurston has been decently effective as House minority leader for the Democratic Party. There’s not much one can do when the GOP had a super majority in Tallahassee but make noise, try to develop strategy that will have an impact and aid in building a strong bench.

Without going into grand detail about the party’s failure to develop a political bench, I’ll move to Thurston’s choice to fight the GOP and AG Pam Bondi.

So far this year, Bondi has raised over $600,000 for her re-election campaign and has over $800,000 in a separate PAC. No matter who the individual from the other side turns out to be, they will have to raise a hefty amount of money just to compete with Bondi.

For Mr. Thurston, when he made his announcement to run, he stated that he has a proven track record of raising money and winning. In looking at some of Thurston’s campaign fund raising history, his healthiest year came in 2006 when he was able to raise over $140,000.

No diss to Thurston, but that’s probably how much Bondi makes in one fund raiser.

But is the Florida Democratic Party using Thurston to drive turnout for former Governor Charlie Crist in next year’s race for the governor’s mansion?

Crist is due to formally make an announcement on Monday morning that he will, again, run for governor of Florida. In a bid to unseat incumbent Rick Scott, Crist has aligned himself with the Democratic Party, a group of individuals he once despised politically.

Now that FDP has its sights set on reclaiming what was once theirs some years ago, they are hoping that pushing Crist as its main candidate will snatch away some of the GOP’s political stronghold on the state.

The hope in running Thurston against Bondi is that enough black people will turn out to vote for him in Broward that it will help in pushing Crist over the top of Scott. Privately, there’s not much hope that Thurston can win but that his presence on a potential ticket will push the party toward a much needed political victory.

If this is the case, should more minority political minds be upset over this decision? If Thurston actually wins the primary and beats Bondi, then that’s great news for FDP and minorities across the state. But if he doesn’t and ends up being throttled by the GOP, what good did it serve besides the best interest of a political party?

If Crist is able to win a primary against the Democratic Party’s other contender for governor, Nan Rich, the strategy is still missing. Crist is a force on his own without FDP. What if he decided to sit on the sidelines and remain independent? Who would the party turn to for governor?

For black people statewide, this should serve as another reminder that an allegiance to a political party equals political irrelevance.

I just hope that Thurston’s bid for attorney general turns out to be more than a back scratch or a lamb being led to slaughter for the so-called greater political good.

-JH

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