Before the senate primary campaign was over, the Betty Castor campaign was already busy allocating resources and strategizing in South Florida about the general election. Not that the campaign was overconfident — although the polls consistently had accorded Castor a double-digit lead over eventual runner-up Peter Deutsch — just that it knew its chances against the Republican nominee could depend significantly on South Florida scenarios. To wit: Would the support of Congressman Deutsch and Miami-Dade County Mayor Alex Penelas prove to be token or true? Would there be a meaningful get-out-the-vote effort on behalf of Castor?
Still fresh in the collective Democrat memory was the ill-fated Bill McBride gubernatorial campaign after the narrow primary win over South Florida native and former U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno. There was never any coalescing of the Reno constituency — card-carrying Dems and minorities — for McBride in the general election. More like a groundswell of indifference. Could there be a reprise in the works?
For the record, the Castor camp doubts such a scenario and remains optimistic about South Florida support.
“A presidential year is much different,” reminds Castor Communications Director Matt Burgess. “Democrats who may not turn out for a gubernatorial race turn out in much higher numbers for a presidential race.
“Congressman Deutsch has been helping with fund raising, and some of the Penelas staff have actually come aboard and are helping with Hispanic outreach,” adds Burgess. “Betty’s been down there quite a bit already. We’re thrilled with the support we’re seeing.”