By Tom Tillison
Susannah Randolph, a former community organizer for ACORN, has announced her intentions to run for the congressional seat being vacated by her boss, U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Fla., who is running for the U.S. Senate.
“Today I announce my candidacy for Florida’s 9th Congressional District,” Randolph posted Monday on Facebook. “I’m running because I’ve always believed that if you work hard and play by the rules, you deserve a fair shot at success in this country.”
(The campaign page set up on the social media platform has generated just 353 “likes” after being up and running all day.)
The irony in Randolph’s statement is that she continues to advocate for policies that cater to an entitlement mentality that diminishes hard work and disregards the rules. It’s difficult to lift up the middle class when you’re continually straddling them with unfair burdens.
Employed as the congressman’s district director, Randolph previously served as Grayson’s campaign manager in his failed 2010 reelection bid, and is cut from the same progressive cloth, although not nearly as acerbic as El Jefe.
In every sense of the word, Randolph is a big government progressive who, in the never-ending quest for social justice, supports left-wing policies that undermine free market principles. Small business-killing mandatory paid sick leave is but one example of this.
And you can be sure organized labor will be in Randolph’s corner.
I didn’t expect her to get into the race, but now that she’s in, Randolph should be seen as a serious contender.
But I stand by a comment I made to Politico’s Marc Caputo that she is a political activist at heart, not a politician. An activist accustomed to working behind the scenes — so much so that Randolph appears somewhat awkward on the rare occasion she finds herself in the spotlight.
It remains to be seen if she can make the transition from being an issues-based advocate to being a candidate.
Nevertheless, as noted by the Orlando Sentinel, with the support of local personal injury attorney John Morgan, a key Democratic donor, among other notable backers, Randolph will be able to raise coin. And lots of it.
Morgan’s support is interesting, given Randolph’s strong loyalty to Grayson, who just called the attorney a lush.
Other relationships that could factor in with fundraising include Miami-based millionaire Chris Findlater, and Bill Phillips, a former Orlando resident who recently relocated to Washington, D.C.
Randolph’s relationship with the two was fostered through Florida Watch Action, the progressive activist group behind the infamous “Pink Slip Rick” campaign — she was state director of the group before returning to work for Grayson upon his reelection in 2012.
Phillips was described last year by BuzzFeed as an “adviser to national Democratic donors… who represents members of the progressive network, the Democracy Alliance” — according to reports, members must contribute at least $200,000 per year.
Findlater donated $25,000 to Citizens for Informed Elections in 2014, a local political action committee behind last year’s failed Democrat-led referendum to make Orange County commission races partisan and move the mayor’s race to the presidential-year election cycle. The Randolphs had a heavy hand in this endeavor.
Due to her behind-the-scenes nature, Randolph’s name ID is not all that strong outside political circles. It helps that her spouse, Orange County Tax Collector Scott Randolph, has been in the political arena for some time.
Having served as Grayson’s campaign manager in 2008 — the ties are deep here folks — husband Scott is sure to play a big role in her campaign.
A 2011 Sentinel feature of the couple — one of several — highlighted “Scott’s strategic mind and Susannah’s years of grass-roots organizing” while describing his own election to the state House.
“He was the brain; I was the brawn,” Susannah said at the time.
The Sentinel’s Scott Power described them as a “power family” in Monday’s write-up of her entry into the race, but did not mention that as a state representative, Randolph came under scrutiny for trying to direct $50,000 to the local ACORN entity at the same time his wife went to work for them. The funding request was denied.
The demographics of CD9 currently favor a Hispanic Democrat, but the redrawing of congressional districts could work to favor Randolph. Either way, the progressive movement has made considerable inroads in the Hispanic community, with a strong ally in the union front group Mi Familia Vota.
Other progressive activist groups likely to support Randolph include Organize Now, the de facto successor to ACORN Florida, Central Florida Jobs with Justice and the gay rights organization Equality Florida. Word has it that Randolph has played a key role in directing funds to each these groups.