Image by DonkeyHotey via Flickr.
Former Congressman Alan Grayson (D-FL) is determined to slither back into the political arena, and he has a war chest with over a half a million dollars to help him do it.
As Politico reported earlier today, Grayson has fired up his fundraising networks and raised nearly $60,000 during the last quarter of 2017. Grayson has historically been a fundraising juggernaut, drawing from a national network of mostly small-dollar liberal donors, and he never stopped soliciting contributions after his 2016 Senate run flopped and his Congressional term ended.
According to the most recent campaign finance reports, Grayson has about $556,000 cash on hand — not to mention his own personal wealth — providing him a solid foundation to mount a comeback campaign.
When Politico’s Matt Dixon and Marc Caputo asked Grayson for details about his plans, he confirmed that he was considering this 2018 election cycle, noting that “Florida law says I can run anywhere.” Grayson declined to specify which district he might target, answering only “TBD.”
A likely option is Florida’s 9th Congressional district, currently held by Rep. Darren Soto, a Democrat generally viewed as a moderate, especially in comparison to Grayson’s combative rhetoric and political stances. Besides political differences, Grayson has another reason to have a chip on his shoulder about Soto: he was first elected to the seat in 2016 when Grayson abandoned it to run for Senate, and Soto won by defeating Grayson’s current wife, Dena Grayson, who sought to succeed her husband in Congress.
Florida Democrats seem less than thrilled about Grayson’s presumed plans. Soto isn’t the fundraising heavyweight that Grayson is, and would be vulnerable to a challenge — meaning that the whole circus that seems to constantly follow Grayson would become the Florida Democratic Party’s Problem-With-A-Capital-P once again.
The scandals that have plagued Grayson in recent years include an ethics investigation into his hedge fund, allegations of domestic abuse and bigamy by his now ex-wife during his last divorce, and accusations of campaign finance violations.
Grayson is so controversial that when PolitiFact sought to bring on two former members of Congress as “reader advocates,” and selected Grayson along with former Rep. David Jolly (R-FL), the outcry — from all across the political spectrum — was so swift and vociferous that PolitiFact revoked the offer to Grayson mere hours later.
“He doesn’t care what people think, including his own party,” Aubrey Jewett, a University of Central Florida professor of political science, said to the Orlando Sentinel in an interview last month. “That endears [him] to some people and drives some people crazy. That’s the nature of Alan Grayson.”
“Alan Grayson has an incredible ability to raise money,” said Tallahassee-based Republican strategist Rick Wilson. “And the guy’s got hustle, I can’t take that away from him. In a leaning-Democrat seat, in this environment, I wouldn’t bet against him.”
Soto currently has about $290,000 cash on hand. As noted above, Grayson’s personal wealth means he has the ability to further widen the financial gap if he choses to contribute to his own campaign.
The primary election in Florida will be August 28, 2018. The deadline for candidate qualifying for Congressional candidates is May 4, 2018.
Follow Sarah Rumpf on Twitter: @rumpfshaker.
[Cross-posted at The Capitolist.]