If Florida Senator Marco Rubio (R) decides to vacate his seat to run for President in 2016, his replacement could be a progressive Democrat. Scott Powers at the Orlando Sentinel reports that Democratic Representative Alan Grayson (FL-09) is considering running for Rubio’s seat. The progressive Congressman is apparently contemplating a Senate bid though he hinted that he might defer to Debbie Wasserman-Schultz if she decides to step into the ring.
Grayson is a fiery progressive and a prodigious fundraiser. The populist Congressman has long been a thorn in the side of conservatives with his blunt assessment of Republican policies. He gained national notoriety in 2009, when he panned the GOP health care plan as “don’t get sick, and if you do get sick, die quickly.” There is no question that if he runs for the U.S. Senate, he will run a spirited campaign.
Congressman Grayson doesn’t pull any punches when he speaks truth to power. If he were to run and win the Florida race, he would likely join Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), as one of the most outspoken progressives in the U.S. Senate. He would also offer a 180-degree change in direction from Senator Marco Rubio, who rode into the Senate on the Tea Party wave.
A Grayson candidacy would be a high risk, high reward gamble. As a polarizing progressive politician, he runs the risk of alienating a segment of the Sunshine State’s independent voters. Unless he was matched up against a similarly polarizing figure on the far right, like former Congressman Allen West, Grayson might be an underdog in a state as evenly split as Florida. Yet, if Grayson were successful, he would immediately give a Southern state a bona fide progressive voice in the U.S. Senate. He would also give Mitch McConnell fits on the Senate floor.
The 2016 election field has not taken shape yet. However, If Alan Grayson is serious about running for the U.S. Senate, Democrats would be assured of having a candidate who is not afraid of his own shadow. Grayson would counter punch for every jab the Republicans threw his way. There is no guarantee he would win a statewide race, but we could be certain that if he didn’t win, at the very least, he would go down swinging.