Open letter to Val Demings in her quest to unseat Marco Rubio

Dear Congresswoman Demings,

The good news is that your “momentum is building,” says James Carville, the Bill Clinton strategist, in a recent appearance on TV. I agree and can feel it. Keep up the good work. You currently trail incumbent Marco Rubio in the Florida Senate race by single digits, but your arrow is pointing north. His directional arrow reminds me of Marco himself — sometimes south, others east and west, and if you listen to him, it’s pointing up. The one sure thing I can guarantee regarding Sen. Rubio, and this should be of help during the campaign, whenever you see his mouth moving, chances are he’s lying. 

The most recent poll on this race, from the nonpartisan political action committee Center Street PAC, shows Rubio leading 45% to 40%, with 16% undecided. The very good news is that your major gains were among unaffiliated voters. The survey showed you with 37% of the unaffiliated voters compared to 29% for Rubio, with 33% undecided. As you know, voters not affiliated with either of the two major parties will decide this election.

Little Marco, as his good friend Donald Trump called him, has been a disaster for this state. Not only has he been lazy and nonchalant about his job, as one of the 100 most important politicians in this country, your recent TV ad hits it on the head when you point out that we have a two-term U.S. senator who does not show up for work — that’s over the almost 12 years on the job. Make that an important point of your campaign. Stress that when regular folks don’t show up for work as often as Marco, they are usually escorted out of the building: Fired! Why should he be different? 

I recently read an excellent article about you in Vanity Fair, which points out that “Of roll call votes in the Senate, he [Marco] has missed 330 out of roughly 3,650 — the fewest appearances of any Florida senator in more than 50 years.” Imagine that, Marco gets elected and paid handsomely for doing little and then lying about what he has not done on television. The article adds, “The median among lifetime voting absences for currently serving senators is 2.2 percent; Rubio comes close to 10 percent.” 

As for the issues, I have no right to tell you how to handle those. As a member of the House of Representatives, and before that a chief of police, and a cop in Orlando, you’ve been playing this game long enough to know what ails us in this state. So I’ll stay out of your way there and trust in your judgment. Although allow me to remind you that they will call YOU, a former policewoman, soft on crime. Expect it. Think back on the attacks on John Kerry when he ran for president. A Vietnam war veteran was painted the coward by a president who maneuvered his way out of the war via his father. So get ready and take the offensive. Don’t allow them to label you what you’re not. It’s a tactic used by Republicans. They look at themselves in the mirror and attack what’s weakest about themselves…

There is one area where I can help. And it will become important. Especially here in South Florida where there are a lot of Democratic Party votes, and you need all of them. It’s Cuba. 

You’re a socialist, they’ll say. Laugh at them, don’t back down. In fact, let them know that the only socialists in the group are Marco Rubio and his Republican friends who are trying to establish a socialist state that favors the rich. Attack them with the fact that Marco and friends want to increase taxes on the poor so that they can then turn and smile at their scandalously rich benefactors — the one percenters, the multi-millionaires and billionaires — and offer them tax cuts paid for by people working two and three jobs to put food on their tables and a roof over their heads. 

As for Cuba, say as you wish against the government. Call them whatever you believe, but… fall back on the Obama plan. Stress family ties. The right to travel and help family members. Look for what unites, not divides us. And again, don’t back down.

Pundits blame ‘socialism’ on the losses of our two Democratic members of the House from Miami in the 2020 elections. The fact is that they were attacked on Cuba, and instead of holding their ground, they cowered, and lost. Part of that blame goes to their consultants NOT giving them good advice when it comes to the Cuba issue. 

Again, think of Obama. He came to Miami in 2008, and promised a different path on Cuba, and won Florida. Twice. The second time garnering almost 50% of the Cuban American vote in Miami, a record for any Democrat. 

But you must show courage, and stick to your guns. Don’t let them tell you differently. 

One last thing. And I have never understood this. Democratic Party consultants have for years thought that we need to convince a certain part of that Cuban Republican base in Miami by being more anti-Cuba than the anti-Cubans themselves. Ignore those Republicans. Forget them. They will NEVER vote for you. Focus on a great number of Cubans who live in Miami, some who simply won’t vote because there is no one who addresses their needs. And one of those needs is their right to help family members on the Island. You’d be surprised how many new voters you may bring to the polls by taking a path rarely taken here in South Florida. 

Good luck! I see you a winner in November.