Representative Alan Grayson (FL-8), a Harvard-educated attorney and telecommunications company founder, defies easy description. He came to office in 2008 after spending $2.5 million of his own money. He also ran effective ads highlighting his pro-bono legal work suing companies he accused of “war profiteering” by sending faulty equipment into battle in Iraq. His race was a marquee race for the progressive blogging community and his 2010 reelection website is provocatively titled “congressmanwithguts.com.” He’s been called a fire breather, a maniac and a darling of the left and at the same time has been accused of starting the Tea Party in Florida.
Martin Sheen, Oliver Stone and documentary filmmaker Robert Greenwald have each recorded videos praising him. A YouTube sensation, Grayson has compared Dick Cheney to a vampire, and said that the Republican plan for health care was to “die quickly.” He also teamed up with Ron Paul and Barney Frank to draft a bill to bring our troops home.
Usually a freshman member of Congress would only make himself a target for right wing wrath and take such visible controversial political stands if their district was very safe for Democrats. However, Grayson won his seat with the Obama tide and his Orlando district has a Republican majority. Because of this, there are numerous Republican and Tea Party affiliated candidates trying to take advantage of his perceived vulnerability.
The Aug. 24 GOP primary (Grayson is unchallenged in the Democratic primary) features the Party establishment’s candidate—a former state legislator named Daniel Webster—supported by Jeb Bush and Mike Huckabee; Pat Sullivan, a local tea party (rather than “Tea Party”) organizer in North Lake; right wing blogger Dan Fanelli (who has a commercial which shows him gesturing to a white-haired white man and asking, “does this look like a terrorist?” before turning to an Arab-appearing man and asking, rhetorically, “or this?”); Grayson’s 08 opponent, Todd Long; State Representative Kurt Kelly; and businessmen Ross Bieling and Bruce O’Donoghue. Adding to the mix and running as an Independent is the Tea Party’s Peg Dunmore, a financial advisor.
Amusingly, Grayson recently released a self-commissioned poll which of course found him to be the most popular candidate if he were to run in the Republican primary. Of course he said he would not accept their nomination. The Cook Political Report deems the race a toss-up, although it is clear that the ground is fertile for Grayson’s opposition to self destruct. At the very least, this race will provide entertainment for political junkies in 2010.