It’s an axiom as old as politics itself: Once elections are history, the losers get over it and unite behind the winners for the common good. That said, you have to believe it was especially challenging for Betty Castor to take one for Team Florida. But she did – by not challenging the senate-race results and further fracturing an already polarized process. So what if her concession smile masked gritted teeth.
Senator-elect Mel Martinez prostituted his “American Dream,” Pedro Pan immigrant story to cut a Faustian deal with the Bush Administration. He did whatever he was told: basically, no more Mr. Nice Guy. The overriding message: Win at all costs. Play every card – from the Sami Al-Arian, soft-on-terrorism ploy to an unethically edited outtake from a debate.
It worked – barely – and resulted in the most contentious senatorial campaign ever run in Florida. It wasn’t, as political euphemisms sometimes term it, “spirited.” It was certifiably sleazy.
It was also the likely last hurrah for Castor as a political candidate. But she lost with her dignity intact – something Martinez never approached in victory.