10 January 2006

Is the McInvale defection bad news for Democrats?

As reported by the Orlando Sentinel, state Representative Sheri McInvale (D-Orlando) is expected to announce today that she is switching her voter registration from Democratic to Republican. According to the right-leaning Orlando newspaper, this should be seen as a blow to Florida Democrats, who only hold 36 out of 120 seats in the Florida House of Representatives. The McInvale switch would bring the minority party to 35, but one has to ask: Is this really bad news for Florida Democrats?

McInvale, who represents House District 36, has angered many Democrats in the Orlando area for her willingness to compromise what they see as Democratic values in a Legislature that is overwhelmingly controlled by extremely right-wing Republicans. While McInvale has been able to gain for herself the perks of being an elected official in Tallahassee (she is currently a Democratic vice chair of a House committee), she is often accused of forgetting the principles of those voters who sent her to the capital city.

The defection of McInvale may actually be good for Florida Democrats. The Party must start putting its members on notice that while it is fine to be independent, it is another thing to continuously stab your party in the back. Florida Democrats have forgotten this in the past. (The current leader of the House Democrats is state Representative Chris Smith (D-Ft. Lauderdale), whose rise to power followed his betrayal of the Florida Democratic Party and the endorsement of Jeb Bush for governor.) The removal of McInvale may actually signal that Florida Democrats are finally growing some backbone and abandoning their frat boy Yes sir, may I have another? attitudes.

McInvale's decision is not motivated by principle. Like most Florida politicians, McInvale is concerned with her own welfare, and it has been apparent for some time that her reelection in 2006 was less than assured. After facing opponents in the last two elections who had joined the races late, McInvale has been running against a young and energetic Democrat for months. Scott Randolph has been a candidate since October and has already raised $20,000 compared to McInvale's $30,000. McInvale has heard the footsteps, and her defection is simply the realization that the end is near. McInvale's decision should not be seen as a courageous act of principle. As I said before, self-preservation is her primary motivator.

By switching to the Republican Party, McInvale is likely ending her career as a politician. Due to reapportionment, the McInvale district is heavily lopsided, with Democrats outnumbering Republicans by a margin of 47 to 29 percent [PDF - 213 KB]. Republican voters literally have no say in choosing their state representative in District 36, and odds are that if McInvale switches her party registration, she is essentially writing her own political obituary.

9 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is worth more consideration that in the last quarter, Randolph (the newcomer) raised $22,514.11 compared to McInvale's (the "seasoned" incumbent) $20,428.82.

Also, upon examining the actual contributions -- Randolph's money came from the people and McInvale's was primarily from corporate donors.

1:30:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm curious to find out what she is getting from the republicans for her jump. McInvale is an opportunist -- she became a democrat shortly befor her initial run for the FL House because she saw she could win as one -- now she has switched back.

I'm sure she is getting something out of the deal. In fact, the latest rumor has it that she was promised (at least) $140,000 to switch -- but only if she dropped the gay adoption bill.

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