Inside, Outside, Upside Down

By: Steve Vancore
By: Steve Vancore

It was supposed to be the year of the outsider! But so-called “insiders” seemed to have the upper hand.

After reviewing Tuesday’s election I am reminded of the old Berenstain Bears children’s book, Inside, Outside, Upside Down.

Or should I say, “Insider, Outsider, Upside Down?”

So what the heck happened on Tuesday?

It was supposed to be the year of the outsider! But so-called “insiders” seemed to have the upper hand.

Former U.S. Congressman Kendrick Meek soared to an impressive victory in the U.S. Senate Democratic Primary and not a single U.S. House member lost his or her seat. In fact, most incumbents running for reelection won in landslides (with the notable exception of Allen Boyd who survived a spirited challenge from (and don’t miss the irony here) longtime House member and State Senator, Al Lawson.) Further, we saw a slew of insiders – current or former state lawmakers – easily winning their party primaries in their attempts to be promoted to a higher office. Former House Speaker Dan Webster, State Representatives David Rivera, Kevin Rader, Greg Evers, and Senator Frederica Wilson, to name just a few, were all easily promoted to the next level. And all of them faced reasonably decent and in some cases, very well-funded challenges from political outsiders who have never held elected office. Further, Republican Senator Thad Altman (R) who broke ranks with his party to support independent Crist also easily won his party’s primary with 68%.

In short, last night was a good night – a very good night – for insiders.

But what about Rick Scott? He’s an outsider and he won.

Rick Scott spent a reported $50 million to win by just 38,000 votes (out of nearly 1.3 million cast.) and outspent McCollum nearly 2:1. To put that in perspective, Scott spent more in the last ten days than Kendrick Meek spent in his entire campaign and Meek won by more than 25 percentage points! He also out spent McCollum by a greater margin than Charlie Crist spent total in his entire campaign from last cycle…and that was just to win the primary.

In fact, it appears that Rick Scott had to spend that much to overcome the inherent outsider disadvantage he brought to the table. We saw an onslaught of ads from noted insiders, namely former Governor and GOP icon Jeb Bush, who publicly sided with McCollum. What was his message? Basically that former longtime Congressman, perennial candidate and current Attorney General, Bill McCollum is a trusted friend (a.k.a. “insider”) we can trust. Certainly, Scott had (and has) other obvious baggage that he had to overcome…but if this is the year of the “outsider,” it sure didn’t seem so in Florida.

Here’s what is so upside down about that. This insider sweep is simply not the case across America.

In many elections across this great country, we see insiders falling everywhere. At least five and maybe six (if Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski can’t hold on) U.S. Senators and several more U.S. House members have been tossed to the wind amidst the fury of anti-incumbent fever in the past year. A mere glance at the local news and it appears that voters across America are ready to toss almost anyone who is an incumbent out of office.

Except Florida, which once again, seems to defy national trends.

Good old Florida. Inside, Outside, Upside Down.
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