The race to succeed Alan Grayson in Florida’s 9th Congressional district was already ramping up with two of the biggest names in it’s Democratic primary already in campaign mode. State Senator Darren Soto and former Congressional District Director Susannah Randolph were already making rounds throughout the district, and fundraising with more than a year to go. Operatives and donors were already taking sides and leaning hostile (story HERE). The table was set.
Then Dr. Dena Minning, a Biotechnology Entrepreneur, entered the race and flipped the entire table over.
In what was meant to be a News dump, she quietly filed on Friday. We hadn’t heard her name since a POLITICO article said she could possibly run back in May, but she was silent until this weekend.
Now that Minning is in, never mind the fact that she’s a doctor, biochemist, entrepreneur, and has long list of professional accomplishments (some which I can’t even pronounce), the only thing we in the media will care about, is that she’s Alan Grayson’s girlfriend. For story purposes, it’s not “Dr. Dena Minning”, it’s “Dr. Dena Minning, who’s also romantically linked to incumbent Alan Grayson”. Fair? Of course not, but it’s reality.
I’ve never met Minning. I’ve been told I’ve been in the same room as she has. I cover a lot of political events in Central Florida, so that bothers me a little bit.
The buzz is very polite. “Kind”, “Charming”, “Pretty”, “Smart”.
“Well, if she’s so smart, what is she doing with Alan Grayson?!” is a joke I’ve already heard twice in Republican circles that has led to audible laughter, and will likely be more popular as her candidacy grows.
The problem now, is that she has no identity of her own. She will be Alan Grayson’s girlfriend until she decides she doesn’t want that title anymore. But, against Soto and Randolph can she win without it?
Right now she’s not a frontrunner she’s an X-Factor, a second tier candidate. She can change that.
She’s an M.D, and can defend the Affordable Care Act or “Obamacare” better than her two rivals, she likes slamming the GOP often calling Republicans “Hypocrites” and can probably emulate Grayson’s “take no prisoners” style on the stump pretty well. She also lobbies in D.C, it’s likely she’ll be able to fill the campaign warchest with enough money to stay competitive.
Who does she hurt? That’s easy. Susannah Randolph.
Much like the 4th big name in this contest, former State Representative Ricardo Rangel, will siphon Hispanic votes in Osceola county from Soto. If Minning plays her cards right, she’ll pull votes from the Grayson supporters who aren’t plugged into the Central Florida scene. “Oh, she’s Alan Grayson’s Girlfriend. That is so cute! We like his style, she’ll fight for us the same way! Where is my credit card?!”.
Randolph’s track record fighting for progressive causes is on a completely higher level than Minning’s but she can’t tout her work with Grayson, if the Congressman isn’t even going to endorse her.
Then again, Grayson hasn’t endorsed his girlfriend either. How long can that last? And can Minning survive without an endorsement from her boyfriend? How does that even work?
In dating terms, it’s like ordering two separate desserts at dinner. It’s like going to the Theater and sending her to go watch a different movie because you want to see “Ant-Man”. It’s like ending a date and saying “I had a really great time with you…. High five!”. Basically, you’re saying “I want to be ‘with you’, but not ‘with you…in the public’.
I specialize in Central Florida politics, not relationships, but even I can tell you that won’t work.
Minning needs Alan Grayson to win. He needs to hitch her campaign to Grayson’s Senate bid and make the same Central Florida campaign stops. If they break up, she’s done. She’s not going to beat Soto or Randolph without him.
Welcome to the race Dr. Minning. Give me a call, so you can tell me what you’re going to do for the voters of the 9th district and create your own campaign identity. Not the label, the rest of the media, or your opponents are prepared to issue you.