By Tom Tillison
Mighty oaks from little acorns grow… or not.
Now that former ACORN community organizer Susannah Randolph‘s congressional bid has fallen short, what’s next for Central Florida’s most prominent social justice warrior?
And allow me to apologize for just getting around to this, as I was otherwise detained on Election Day dealing with a cardiovascular health issue at a local hospital. Not to belabor the point, but the moral of the story is that along with heredity, the failure to live a healthy lifestyle and take proper care of our bodies comes with a price. A price none of us are immune from. Thankfully, due to a little diligence — I listened to what my body was telling me — and the incredible advances in modern medicine, I’ve been fortunate to stay one step ahead of a critical event.
But I digress…
My hat is off to Randolph, who ran a well-funded, professional campaign. She made the successful transition from an activist to a candidate and established herself as a legitimate contender in Florida’s 9th Congressional District, finishing second to state Sen. Darren Soto. But what comes next?
Randolph gave up her gig as district director for U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Fla., to run for his seat when he made the ill-fated decision to run for the Senate. Her choice would ultimately pit her against Grayson’s blushing bride, Dena Grayson, who also ran for his seat. Both Graysons crashed and burned on Tuesday, with Randolph edging out Mrs. Grayson by 142 votes. The race created a major rift between the Grayson and Randolph camps, which shows no signs of mending anytime soon.
Financial reports in early August showed the Randolph campaign had over $200,000 still in the bank out of more than $700,000 raised. And while the FEC has strict rules about how leftover campaign money may be spent, is there enough seed money remaining to launch a future run for office, should Randolph want to capitalize on the name ID she has established? Will she decide to pursue a local office like a city or county commission seat?
Or will Randolph return to the grind of street protests? Her job before her last stint with Alan Grayson was with Florida Watch Action, an activist group established by Miami millionaire Chris Findlater – recall the Pink Slip Rick campaign? It’s hard to fathom that Randolph will see this as a viable option, but it could be where her heart lies.
We’ll learn soon enough what Randolph has in store and you can count on us to be there, as always, shining the disinfecting rays of sunlight to ensure transparency on her efforts.
As for her loss, Central Florida has benefited more than folks may ever realize. A Randolph congressional seat would have effectively institutionalized the local ACORN effort on the taxpayer’s dime. An effort that, in the pursuit of “social and economic justice,” advances the entitlement mentality in America while undermining our free market economy.
Her win would have also strengthened the Clinton-esque feel that surrounds the Randolphs; an atmosphere that was evident when Holly Fussell told her remarkable story of having been raped by a coworker while employed by Congressman Grayson, claiming the sexual assault occurred after she repeatedly went to Randolph to complain about sexual harassment by this same coworker — complaints that Fussell said were downplayed and ignored.
Randolph disputed this and an effort was quickly launched to flip the narrative by painting her as the victim, insisting that Fussell was little more than a political operative. Either way, by her own accord, Fussell was ultimately bullied into silence.
Fussell had the courage to come forward and make voters aware of what she saw as the hypocrisy behind Randolph’s claim to be “a true fighter for women’s rights,” and did so at great personal cost. We may never know what really happened, in large part because Fussell is apparently unwilling to report the alleged rape. On the other hand, doing so is sure to come with far-reaching implications few can imagine, resulting in the 23-year-old Fussell falling under even more scrutiny.
Either way, I worry about Fussell and hope she gets the help she needs… and I’m glad Randolph did not get the opportunity to add to her already substantial power base that allows her to run roughshod over any who might cross the path of a community organizer who cut her teeth on the words of ACORN founder Wade Rathke: “We try to use the power of persuasion, and if that doesn’t work, we’ll use the persuasion of power.”