Bernie Sanders fans take issue with Florida Dems' Hillary comments

click to enlarge Bernie Sanders fans take issue with Florida Dems' Hillary comments - flickr user gage skidmore
flickr user gage skidmore
Bernie Sanders fans take issue with Florida Dems' Hillary comments

As you might imagine, those who Feel the Bern are not incredibly happy with a Tampa Bay Times story out earlier this week quoting numerous high-level Florida Democrats discouraging early state primary voters from supporting Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders over former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton next month.

The thinking is that Florida, a swing state in the November general election, would be more likely to support Clinton, whom many deem a moderate, over Sanders, who never shies away from the word "socialism."

In recent weeks, Sanders, once an obscure candidate many deemed a longshot, has seen an upward trajectory in polls in Iowa and New Hampshire. According to one recent poll, he's in a "dead heat" with Clinton in Iowa and ahead of her in New Hampshire. 

Among those quoted in the Times piece, which the paper's political editor Adam Smith penned, was Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn.

"It's okay to be right, but it's more important to win. And if you don't win, you can't govern," he said.

Former Florida Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink, who unsuccessfully ran for governor in 2010 and Pinellas County's 13th Congressional District seat in 2014, also weighed in.

"Bernie's touching a nerve, and rightfully so, about income inequality. I totally agree with him that that's something this country has to address and fix, but I don't agree with his solutions," she told Smith.

To many progressive Democrats, Sink and other moderates represent a wing of the party that mainstream Democrats support only because of their perceived electability in a general election, hence their tendency to do well in Democratic primaries. Other such candidates include former Florida Governor Charlie Crist, who ran for governor and lost in 2014, and Congressman and U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy, an east coast Democrat currently in a primary with Orlando-area Congressman Alan Grayson, a progressive.

Both Crist and Murphy were Republicans until recently, something pragmatic mainstream Democrats see as a draw for Independent voters turned off by gridlock in Tallahassee and Washington, DC.

Progressives doubt whether running such candidates is a good idea, given Crist's and Sink's track records in Florida.

"For those people like Buckhorn, Sink and even Christ [sic] (who was not mentioned in the article) who are interested only in winning, we end up with politicians like Governor Rick Scott, and Congressman David Jolly. Ego vs. Leadership. Ego is destroying us and we end up with lame people running on lame ideas. Leadership is much harder to find, and proven leadership is even more of a rare commodity," said Amos Miers of Tampa Bay for Bernie in an email.

Others quoted include U.S. Senator from Florida Bill Nelson and Miami Democrat Annette Taddeo, Crist's running mate in 2014.

What Sanders supporters see in him is a chance to ignite passion among voters who aren't afraid of sweeping reforms in health care, immigration, higher education, foreign policy and more, reforms that could level the playing field and provide more opportunities for students and the working poor, probably at the expense of the super-rich and large corporations.

In response to those quoted in the Times story, Jeff Etter, also of Tampa Bay for Bernie, sent CL a lengthy emailed statement criticizing their arguments against Sanders' candidacy.

"While Bernie Sanders may not agree with anyone 100% of the time, nor do his supporters agree with him 100% of the time, Bernie Sanders looks for the common ground where we as American’s can have agreement on how we can move our country forward. American’s may not like his stands, but they like knowing where he stands! And unlike most politicians these days, they respect him at rates previously unheard of!


These “prominent Democrats” are the staff that we the voters have hired to do a job. While they have the same power of one vote for one citizen that all of the rest of us do, someone needs to peel back the kimono and ask “what difference does matter what most prominent Democrats overwhelmingly say?"

Tampa Bay for Bernie is holding two "Bernstorm" events on Saturday, the first in Tampa at 11 a.m. and the second in St. Pete at 3 p.m. Find out more here. The group is also having a watch party at Edge of 9 in St. Petersburg the night of the Iowa Caucus.

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