Whose Side Are You On, Sen. Schumer?
I hate to write headlines with a question mark lest they be perceived as clickbait, but this isn't clickbait. It's an honest question.
Because in Florida right now, we have a Senate race that's winnable for Democrats where the Republican candidate is the current seat holder who says he hates the job, proves it by rarely showing up, and swore he wouldn't run for it again after voters told him to take a hike in his failed Presidential primary. Now he's back, once again pretending that he won't run for President again, and abandon the job early, again. Sure.
Marco Rubio has never done anything in his political life that doesn't benefit Marco Rubio. His only accomplishment in the Senate (if you can really call it an accomplishment) was an immigration bill that he turned around and voted against. Since he arrived in Washington he's done nothing but obstruct everything President Obama and Democrats tried to do, things that his constituents favored. When he ran the first time in 2010, he said "Perhaps the most stimulative thing they [Congress] can do right now is take a two year recess or something.” That was the closest Rubio ever came to having a "big idea."
So here we have absentee record holder Senator Rubio, one of the worst candidates possible, trying to keep his seat, and his opponent Patrick Murphy is gaining on him in the polls, and tied with him in at least one. This would seem like a win-win scenario for Democrats. Yet the man who professes to want to lead Democrats in the Senate when Harry Reid exits next year has taken it upon himself to withdraw monetary support for Murphy, and essentially hand Floridians something they clearly don't seem to want: Another couple years (?), much less six of Marco Rubio's "representation" in Washington.
That man would be Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York.
Every big name in the Democratic Party from President Obama to Bill Clinton have stepped up on Murphy's behalf in Florida, yet Schumer apparently refuses to.
There have been quiet whispers about this in Florida for a while now, but not anymore.
On Sunday, The New York Times published an editorial entitled "A Chance To Unseat Marco Rubio." It illustrated the downsides for Rubio in the state right now, among them the growing support for Democrats among Latinos and Rubio's support of Trump:
Just months ago, Senator Marco Rubio was seen by the Republican establishment as one of its best hopes for taking back the White House. Now, Representative Patrick Murphy, a second-term congressman, is within striking distance of defeating Mr. Rubio in the senator’s race to keep his seat.
The race is the most consequential among several in Florida in which Republican incumbents find themselves in unexpectedly tough fights. The plight of Florida Republicans — who seem largely resigned to a Clinton victory, given Hillary Clinton’s four percentage point lead in the polls — is in large measure a result of the name at the top of the ballot. But Donald Trump’s candidacy has only accelerated trends that have changed Florida’s political landscape in ways that Democrats have been more adept at seizing.
What this has meant for Mr. Rubio is that he can no longer rely on Cuban-Americans as a stalwart base in a state where many voters have become alienated by his hard-line conservative positions on issues such as gay rights, reproductive rights, gun control and the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, and by his shifting stance on immigration reform. Of course, the Trump factor is substantial, too. Mr. Rubio, who once called Mr. Trump a “con artist” wholly unfit to be president, now backs him. Many former Rubio supporters find that galling and indefensible.
For these reasons, Florida voters should support Mr. Murphy. But defeating Mr. Rubio, who earned a reputation on Capitol Hill as a disengaged lawmaker who skipped scores of key votes and hearings, shouldn’t be the only motive.
Mr. Murphy’s positions on climate change — an issue that Mr. Rubio seems deeply ignorant about — gay rights, gun control and comprehensive immigration reform make him by far a superior representative for Floridians. Mr. Murphy has also challenged Mr. Rubio’s obstinate support for the failed embargo on Cuba, which puts him on the right side of history and, increasingly, public opinion in Florida.
Earlier this week the subject of Democrats abandoning Murphy came up on Rachel Maddow over at MSNBC, where she discussed the problem with Florida political strategist and former State Director for the Barack Obama campaign, Steve Schale. You can see that discussion in the video here.
Then last night Politico published a piece entitled "Top Democrats Steamed That Party Letting Rubio Skate" that was music to the ears of frustrated Democrats in this state. Among the revelations from the article:
Tensions are flaring at the highest rungs of the Democratic Party over its decision to pull out of the Florida Senate race, with Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid and Florida donors pressing to go all out to unseat Marco Rubio in the final days of the campaign, but New York Sen. Chuck Schumer and the party’s Senate campaign arm arguing it’s not feasible because of budget constraints.
The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee — under the direction of Schumer and its chairman, Montana Sen. Jon Tester — has redirected millions of dollars from Florida to North Carolina, Missouri and Indiana. They reason that those states are both much cheaper to advertise in and offer a more promising path to the Senate majority than Florida, where Rubio has long been favored to defeat Democratic Rep. Patrick Murphy.
But Reid and other Democrats believe that defeating Rubio would be the ultimate Election Day trophy for Democrats, given his national stature and the reelection threat he could post to a potential President Hillary Clinton in 2020.
Many Democrats see things the other way. Reid is advocating that the party make an eleventh-hour re-entry into Florida, Democratic sources said. Barack Obama has also taken a keen interest in the race, traveling to Florida to knock Rubio last week. He’ll return Friday to visit Orlando.
Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) has been pleading with former President Bill Clinton to get Democrats more interested in the Florida contest, sources familiar with the matter said. Bill Clinton himself believes Democrats gave up on the race prematurely and is urging Florida donors to support Murphy.
And here's the kicker:
The urgency among many Democrats is heightened by Rubio’s status as a rising star in the Republican Party with unquestioned national ambitions. Many Democrats believe the next few days is the best chance to finish him off.
“I understand it’s not Chuck Schumer’s job to worry about presidential politics,” said Steve Schale, who managed Obama’s 2008 campaign in Florida. But “we’re all going to look a little dumb if Rubio wins by 80,000 votes and announces for president in two years.”
“Going forward, we should certainly consider building a big beautiful wall around Florida that the DSCC pays for,” [Florida fundraiser Stephen] Bittel quipped. “Everyone comes to Florida to raise money and we have been incredibly generous for a long time to the DSCC and we are quite disappointed that they have chosen to not repatriate our capital back to Florida to support Patrick Murphy.”
“The Clintons have extra incentive to help Patrick,” said one Florida source. “If Rubio loses his reelection after losing his home state to Trump in the presidential primary, he’s done. No one can survive two losses at home in the same year. Don’t you think Hillary would be happy if she knew that Marco was no longer a threat to her in four years?”
Everyone from state Democrats, Democratic voters, Democratic strategists and the biggest Florida Democratic donors recognize the folly of sitting back and letting Rubio win a race that is his to lose, a seat that has long been in the Republican column but now has a chance to flip to the Democrats. Yet Chuck Schumer doesn't see the urgency in handing the seat back to one of the most unpopular Republicans in the Senate? Why?
Here's a possible hint I saw today on twitter:
I don't know if that's true, but if it is, it's stunning. If Chuck Schumer plans to be the leader of the Democrats in the Senate, and is protecting a no-show Republican obstructionist who has everything to gain at the expense of a flipped seat for the Democrats in the Senate, is that Schumer's idea of "leadership?" After all, let's remember that after Donald Trump is gone, Republicans who supported him will jump to try and rewrite history of their support for an unhinged candidate. Worse, Republicans will pretend their party members who were lying to supporters for years as Trump does, and who have created the atmosphere that allowed Trump to rise in the party in the first place will be looking for someone to pretend he's the Republican's "normal choice." Rubio stands to gain from that rewrite. The party already named him their "savior" once before. Does anyone really believe they won't try this again?
Then there's this, again, from the Politico story:
In theory, Schumer could transfer more money to the DSCC; he had $20 million in his campaign coffers at the start of October. But he’s currently spending on ads in his own reelection campaign in the pricey New York market and has already transferred more than $6 million into Senate races.
$20 million is a lot of money. Especially when you consider Schumer's Real Clear Politics polling average in his own race is currently +36 against his Republican opponent. Despite the pricey New York market, just how much does Schumer really need to defend himself?
Really, Sen. Schumer? Can't spare a dime for Murphy? Money's "tight" when you've only got a mere $20 million? This revelation is music to Republicans ears, and they thank you for the help! (And yes, they are literally thanking him for it.)
I've been writing about the disaster that is Marco Rubio for a long time, and I've been looking forward to ending my streak. I thought it ended when Rubio lost in his Presidential primary, especially in his home state landslide loss. It was frustrating enough when he flip-flopped to run again, but even I thought surely this next loss would be the end of his career. That frustration wasn't mine alone. There's a virtual club of Democrats here who were giddy at the thought of waving goodbye to Rubio.
So it's beyond frustrating that, of all people, a Democrat from New York may have decided to put his thumb on the scale for Rubio, despite what any Floridian might want, much less what the country might want, four years from now. Worse, that this Democrat may be leading the Senate in the future.
If you're as frustrated as I am, please respectfully ask Sen. Chuck Schumer to change his mind and give Patrick Murphy, and Florida, the help they deserve.