Now that both campaigns have announced their picks for Lieutenant Governor, the State of Sunshine wanted to say that neither did a bad job. Let’s look at the picks:
Democrat: Daryl Jones
(Photo from the Orlando Sentinel)
Democratic candidate Jim Davis made history by selecting an African-American in former Miami-Dade state senator Daryl Jones. Jones, an unsuccessful candidate for governor in 2002, was previously nominated by President Bill Clinton to be Secretary of the Navy.
The selection of an African-American shores up a weakness for Davis caused by his primary opponent, Rod Smith. Smith and his supporters had attacked Davis as weak on race issues because of his vote on a claims bill for two African-American prisoners who were imprisoned despite being innocent. Earlier this week, Davis apologized personally to Wilbert Lee and Freddie Pitts, and both endorsed his candidacy for governor.
The controversy caused a number of African-American activists to ask Davis to select an African-American for his LG. Congressman Alcee Hastings even asked Davis to be a “different white man.”
We believe Davis made a great pick. First, Jones had endorsed Rod Smith in the primary. Selecting a Smith supporter helps unify the Democratic party. Second, Jones has a more moderate image than many African-American leaders, partially from his service in the military. Finally, the vast difference in turnout for minorities in 2000 and 2002 were part of the reason the differences were far larger.
Jones can help rally African-American communities to get out the vote. McBride-Rossin (two white lawyers) did not have the same appeal. McBride would have lost regardless, but the margin might have been a lot closer had the African-American community turned out in 2002 like they did for Gore-Lieberman in 2000.
Is that enough to beat the Republicans? That is still unclear, and the State of Sunshine will have more analysis as the election draws near. For now, let’s just say that Davis’ selection has mitigated some of the problems he would have encountered with a white LG candidate.
Republican: Jeff Kottkamp
(Photo from the Orlando Sentinel)
State Representative Jeff Kottkamp (R-Cape Coral) was a safe pick for Republican candidate Charlie Crist. He comes from a solid Republican area in Southwest Florida, but adds a conservative voice to the ticket. Kottkamp has been honored by many conservative organizations, including the Florida Catholic Conference.
The fact that both candidates are white lawyers is not a great sign. McBride-Rossin were two white lawyers. (It almost sounds like a lead in for a good joke… “Two white lawyers walk into a bar…”) But Kottkamp provides a good link to the Legislature, allowing Crist to have Kottkamp serve in the capacity Jeb had for both Frank Brogan and Toni Jennings – legislative arm twister.
Kottkamp does not bring much to the campaign, but he does not hurt either. And that is what you want to have as the perceived front runner. No mistakes. Nothing to trip up the campaign.
What Others Are Saying
The blogosphere analyzed one or both picks, with mixed results.
The choice honestly surprised me because I’m not sure that it adds much to Crist’s campaign. Sure, Kottkamp is a Conservative and this will help shore up the Conservative base, but Conservatives would have voted for Crist anyways. He adds little name recognition and he comes from an area Crist would likely win anyways. Politically, I think there were better choices…
But this about reassuring conservative about Crist’s waffling on abortion. Besides, no cares about the Lt. Governor candidates. (Except political junkies and bloggers.)
As a values-driven voter, I fully support Crist’s choice for Florida’s next Lieutenant Governor. I respect the fact that Charlie Crist made his choice based not on political strategy, not on publicity, and not on popular trends, but instead on what he believed to be right. To me, that’s called leadership, something he has displayed this entire campaign.
Today, liberals all over Florida are heralding what a great pick Jones is for the Davis campaign. I’ll even admit, there is some well thought out strategy to the choice; damage control over one of Davis’ big problems (the Lee/Pitts issue), race becomes an issue… But despite these highlights, most Floridians will be left with the same response to Jones as they had to Kottkamp; “Who is this guy?”
Certainly, the choice may help his standing with the African American community, and it may get at least some supporters of primary opponent State Senator Rod Smith excited, but the bottom line is simply that Jones is the best choice.
This is a good start. Jones is going to have to help Davis smooth things with black voters. If they stay home then this race is over.
I just wish some of my other favority bloggers, like Kate at Out in Left Field, The Florida Masochist, and JaxGOP had blogged on this. (Sidebar: JaxGOP is looking for help – if you live in the Jacksonville area, check out his blog.) Finally, it will be interesting to see if PoHo has anything to say about these picks over at Blurbex.