By Tom Tillison
In what appears to be a first, U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Fla., has taken credit for the Orange County paid sick leave ballot initiative.
While discussing his foolhardy decision to run for the Senate seat being vacated by U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., who is running for president, Grayson told the Orlando Political Observer on Thursday that paid sick leave is “going to be a major issue next year” — this was one of “three particular issues” Grayson said he was basing his Senate run on.
“We’re going to have a sick leave amendment in Florida,” the bombastic Democrat acknowledged. “I used my resources in Orange County to get it on the ballot in 2012, and it passed.”
Organize Now, the de facto successor to now-defunct ACORN Florida, was the driving force behind the Orange County ballot initiative, operating through a front group called Citizens for a Greater Orange County.
And the activist group has already taken steps to launch a state-wide paid sick leave initiative.
Family Always Come First, Inc., a political action committee formed by Organize Now, filed a paid sick leave constitutional amendment initiative with the Florida Division of Elections on May 20.
With Grayson pointing to this effort as a driving factor in his Senate run, it would indicate that he made the decision to run some time ago, despite waiting until Thursday to announce. Paid sick leave is likely to turn out voters more apt to back a hard-left progressive candidate such as Grayson.
Grayson’s connections to Organize Now are well known, beginning with Susannah Randolph, his one-time campaign manager and current district director. Randolph was once the state director of ACORN Florida and is a close ally to current Organize Now state director Stephanie Porta.
The Orlando Sentinel reported Thursday that Randolph is expected to file to run in CD 9, the seat Grayson is vacating.
Another connection is Grayson’s embrace of OUR Walmart, a labor-driven campaign to unionize the retail giant — Organize Now and Our Walmart frequently work side-by-side in Central Florida.
In 2012, the newly elected congressman turned up at a local Wal-Mart handing out turkey sandwiches and letters explaining the right to organize to employees, forcing management to call the police to have him escorted off the property.