The Democratic Party’s Wild Card, Alan Grayson, Is Making a Comeback

Former Congressman Alan Grayson. Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Former Congressman Alan Grayson (D-FL) opted to run for Senate in 2016 rather than running for re-election, but he lost to Congressman Patrick Murphy (D-FL) in the primary, who ultimately came up short against Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) in the general election. In December 2016, Grayson fueled speculation that he planned to run for Congress again by refiling with the FEC, but he insisted he was just leaving his options open.

However, on September 28, he sent out a fundraising email revealing his ambitions. The email read, “If you let ‘those people’ decide things, nothing would ever get done. Isn’t it about time that someone like Alan Grayson called out the do-nothings and the naysayers? This is why we need Alan Grayson in Congress. As the end of the quarter approaches, please sign up to contribute $20.17 to his campaign today.”

Grayson previously served one term representing Florida’s 8th Congressional District and two terms representing Florida’s 9th Congressional District. His new wife, Dr. Dena Grayson, ran for his seat in 2016 but finished third in the primary. She has filed to run again in Florida’s 8th Congressional District, and Alan Grayson has filed to run in the 11th Congressional District.

Throughout his political career, Grayson developed a reputation as a wild card. He has compared the Tea Party to the Ku Klux Klan, called a Christian conservative opponent a member of the Taliban, labeled a lobbyist a “K Street whore,” and has cussed out reporters multiple times. His brashness rubbed his colleagues on both sides of the aisle the wrong way; Obama, Biden, and former Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid all endorsed his primary opponent in 2016. In May 2016, Reid told Grayson during a party meeting, “I want you to lose. It’s true.”

Democrats in Florida are torn between loving and hating him, The Washington Post reported in May 2016: “Before coming to Washington, Grayson earned the hearts of liberals by being an outspoken critic of the Iraq War. In Congress, he’s unabashedly come to the aide of his constituents: He sought a new hurricane center for Orlando. He championed the case of a Florida teen killed after he was ejected from a state fair, and he worked with Osceola County to help pass one of the toughest wage theft laws in the state.”

Grayson was a very prolific and successful congressman, passing more amendments and bills than any other member in the 113th Congress. In 2013, Slate reported that he was the most effective member of the House due to his ability to work with libertarian Republicans, appealing to their desire to protect state’s rights and the Constitution to push environmental and civil rights oriented legislation.

Since he left office, Grayson has focused on criticizing President Donald Trump. Grayson, a Harvard educated lawyer, is trying to raise awareness of the corruption rampant in Trump’s administration, branding himself as a champion of holding Trump accountable. He regularly posts a newsletter on Medium called “The Trump Dump,” in which he outlines the policies and issues Trump and Republicans are pushing. He also runs a website called LockHimUpNow.org, a play on words on Trump’s infamous call to “Lock Her Up.” The Democratic Party is desperate to recoup its losses in Congress—especially in Florida, where Republicans dominated during the Obama administration—and that Grayson is an outsider might just work in its favor.

Michael Sainato’s writing has appeared in the Guardian, Miami Herald, Baltimore Sun, Huffington Post, LiveScience, Buffalo News, the Plain Dealer, the Hill, Gainesville Sun, Tallahassee Democrat, Knoxville News Sentinel, and the Troy Record. He lives in Gainesville, FL. Follow him on twitter: @msainat1

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The Democratic Party’s Wild Card, Alan Grayson, Is Making a Comeback