Florida voters really blew it in 2016. They elected Donald Trump. They reelected Marco-effing-Rubio. Both of those guys now spend every morning tweeting in their bathrobes while marching the nation ever closer to fascism and the climate-change apocalypse. Things are very, very bad right now, and it is largely Florida’s fault.
But tomorrow is another Election Day, and Floridians can at least try to put some kind of check on the Trump administration or the usually right-wing state Legislature. Let’s hope we can avoid a future in which military snipers will be legally allowed to murder kneeling NFL protesters or whatever crackpot idea Trump burps out after eating a bucket of KFC. None of this is an endorsement of the confused, terrified, and inept Florida Democrats, but they at least don’t seem to be trying to construct an electrified fence on the U.S. border.
Thanks to a bizarrely progressive law in Florida, a helluva lot of people have already voted early in the 2018 midterm election. As it stands, early turnout has significantly eclipsed that of the 2014 midterms, and more registered Democrats than Republicans have voted so far. Time will tell how the results really turn out tomorrow night. But if you haven’t voted yet, here’s a handy primer on candidates and ballot measures to avoid at all costs:
1. U.S. Senate candidate Rick Scott. What’s left to be said about Rick Scott after living through eight years with his skeletal, banshee-like body occupying the governor’s mansion? It’s easy to gloss over how uniquely bad Scott truly is. He is a Medicare fraudster who decided in 2018 to just lean into his status as a person who stole ungodly amounts of money from poor and sick people in the 1990s. His latest TV ads highlight the fact that he does, technically speaking, have a family: The ads show him kidding around with his grandchildren and pretending they aren’t all terrified of the fact that he smells like sulfur and his skin flakes off when they hug him. The ad likely came about after a focus group reported that Scott looks spooky and does not seem to elicit joy or any emotions besides spite, bitterness, and avarice. (During his eight years as governor, Florida became a significantly harsher and crueler place for the working class and poor, data shows.)
None of this means his Democratic opponent, Bill Nelson, is not also a skeletal, inhuman ghoul. Nelson looks and acts as if he died in 2006. His face and his voting record are nightmarish. In any other election year, we’d be spending these column inches clowning Nelson, who has seemingly no idea how to campaign or engender popular support and comes across as if he’s terrified of losing. But 2018 is a race between a corpse and a zombie, and at this point, the corpse at least seems less likely to bite.
2. Gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis. Reporters have rightfully spilled tons of ink this year outlining how Ron DeSantis hangs out with racists, has said some racist stuff, and generally is running a campaign so brazenly anti-immigrant that he might as well read from the racist novel Camp of the Saints on the campaign trail. Those criticisms are all entirely fair and accurate. But the thing that has not been fully fleshed out is how truly dumb DeSantis seems: He comes across as a candidate who has never had to speak to a non-Fox News audience and simply does not understand that you cannot use words such as “monkey” on TV when talking about black people. He comes across as drunk even when he’s obviously sober. We read his racist 2011 book, Dreams From Our Founding Fathers, and in addition to being offended by the parts where he makes excuses for the legalization of slavery in 1787, the book was absolutely, head-bangingly dull.
3. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart. Speaking of dull, we present Miami Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart. He’s so dull there’s nothing else to say about him.
4. Rep. Carlos Curbelo. Carlos Curbelo and Diaz-Balart make up Miami’s tag team of Reasonable Conservative Congresspeople, the type of guys who Totally, Definitely Repudiate Donald Trump’s Horrible Actions as President but constantly vote to advance his agenda anyway. Curbelo, even more than Diaz-Balart, whines like a child whenever someone points out his policy ideas are virtually identical to Trump’s: According to FiveThirtyEight.com, Curbelo votes in line with Trump’s agenda 83 percent of the time. That fact is often conspicuously absent from national media profiles about Curbelo, which whitewash his self-mythology that he’s simply a Good Guy Who Believes in Small Government and not another Paul Ryan-style psycho who is dead-set on taking away people’s health care and social-welfare programs. (Diaz-Balart is basically the same guy, but more boring and less vocal.) Pretending a Reasonable Conservative could win back the Republican Party is sort of like tricking yourself into believing a new hairdo will save your dying marriage to someone who’s having an affair with a meth-addicted biker. Too little, too late.
5. State Rep. Bryan Avila. Remember when, amid his N-word-spewing scandal, former state Sen. Frank Artiles got caught hiring unqualified models and Hooters waitresses as consultants and interns? State Sen. Bryan Avila was quietly mentioned in one of those blockbuster stories as also having hired one of those women as an intern. Nobody seems to remember this fact.
6. State House candidate Michael Grieco. Michael Grieco has shown over his entire career in public service that he cannot keep his gigantic ego in check. As a local state attorney, he famously had to resign from prosecuting the murder of football star Sean Taylor because Grieco was using the case to promote his side gig as DJ ESQ, the tune-slinging defense lawyer. Grieco was similarly undone when he tried to run for Miami Beach mayor: He probably would have won if not for the fact that he (allegedly) hatched a painfully obvious plan to pump foreign money from a Norwegian into his campaign through an illegal straw donor. He pleaded no contest to those charges but simply cannot stop himself from running for office again. He’ll probably win and do something else stupid within weeks.
7. Constitutional Amendment 5, which would basically make it impossible to raise taxes. Constitutional Amendment 5 would force the Florida Legislature to obtain a supermajority (60 percent) of votes to raise any new taxes or fees at the state level. In practice, this would make it impossible to create any new social programs in the Sunshine State: As it stands, Florida is a purple state, and its voting districts are gerrymandered to hell, so Republicans will pretty much always control upward of 40 to 50 percent of the state Legislature. New taxes on the rich or carbon-polluting corporations to pay for climate-change improvements? Likely impossible if this amendment passes. State-level medicare-for-all programs? Good luck. This idea is insane.
8. Constitutional Amendment 6: “Rights” of crime victims, AKA Marsy’s Law. This one sounds nice! Who doesn’t want to help crime victims feel better? The problem, of course, is in the details: Marsy’s Law-style bills are being pushed by a telecommunications billionaire from California who thinks crime victims should have a say in an alleged criminal’s sentencing, parole hearings, and even seemingly innocuous things such as whether they get their voting rights back or move from prison to prison. The American Civil Liberties Union opposes Amendment 6 — in other states, the seemingly well-intentioned amendment has led to people sitting in jail for longer periods of time. Justice-reform advocates say it would be cheaper and more helpful to society if we funded therapy and counseling for crime victims instead of letting them act out their revenge fantasies in court.
9. County Referendum 5: Banning grassroots groups from paying canvassers per signature. This one also sounds nice: It would ban Miami-Dade County groups from paying petition-gatherers for each signature they obtain for a given issue. But these kinds of bans have been criticized in other states and cities for making it harder for small, grassroots groups and candidates to gather signatures or knock door-to-door: LA Weekly in 2009 noted that the people backing a similar ban in California came from Big Pharma and Big Business and that the measure was a “pseudo-reform” and “sleazy.” Then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger ultimately vetoed it.
10. Miami’s Strong-Mayor Initiative. Miami mayors are almost uniformly insane or corrupt. Generally speaking, this is why the town has a city manager who deals with hiring, firing, or directing most nonpartisan, nonpolitical city employees, including sanitation and fire-rescue workers. If passed, the strong-mayor initiative would basically handicap the city manager and put the mayor in charge of most day-to-day city activities. Miami’s current mayor, Francis Suarez, appears to be transactional and politically motivated but not generally an outright criminal. That, however, might not be true for mayoral candidates in the future. Let’s not risk letting Joe Carollo, for example, run the city.