'Pink Slip Rick' campaign rolls through Sarasota

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The September installment of the Sarasota County Democratic Party (SCDP)’s monthly meeting sparked a lot of enthusiasm over the idea that Republican Rick Scott will not reside much longer in the Florida Governor’s mansion.  The monthly gathering of party members and elected officials rallied in audible support for the “Pink Slip Rick” campaign – adding a new meaning to the term “Rick Rolled.”

“We have to keep on him,” Susannah Randolph, Executive Director of the Florida Watch Action organization, said in her address to the Sarasota Dems. While based in Orlando, Randolph spearheads the campaign through engagement with Democrats all over the state.

“He’s our best friend when it comes to building a movement and winning elections,” she noted, referring to Scott’s uncanny ability to encourage exactly what the Democrats want – the Republicans out of office.

The voter polls are in, and they do not look good for Scott. While his approval rating has improved, it has gone only from ‘terrible’ to ‘bad.’ A poll of Florida voters found that those who approve of his job-so-far shows a 35 – 52 percent score is an improvement from a negative 29 – 57 percent in May. The Aug. 5 Quinnipiac University poll also found that Florida voters continue to give Gov. Scott negative ratings on his handling of the state budget, its fairness to average voters and about him personally. *

The campaign, known for its rhetorical goal of recalling the governor, started April 1st of this year in reaction to Rick Scott’s unrequited campaign promises. “This is a branding centered campaign,” Randolph said in an interview with the Catalyst. “We don’t have to work very hard, we just have to get them to remember that Rick Scott is a job killer. He ran on jobs, his main message was about jobs. It’s time to brand this guy as the job killer he is.”

The crusade stresses that Rick Scott has proven to be staunchly anti-middle class. “Jobs, health care, education, women’s rights … this governor on all fronts is attacking the middle class,” Randolph said.

“The Republicans up [in Tallahassee], spent the entire time attacking you,” said Randolph’s husband, Florida Democrat and State Representative Scott Randolph of Orlando, of the most recent Florida legislative session. “If you were uninsured, unemployed, part of a union … if you had a uterus, they were attacking you… we spent no time creating jobs.

“These Republicans might believe in original sin, but none of them believe in original thought,” Rep. Randolph exclaimed. “These are all the same Koch brother ideas we have seen in every state.”

“The purpose of the campaign is to hold Rick Scott accountable,” Chair of the SCDP Rita Ferrandino said.  As she told the packed conference room, “Our job is to stick to Rick!”

The Dems are gung-ho in this campaign, and are determined to keep up the momentum through the crucial strategy of communication. There are social media trainings at the SCDP headquarters to teach the aging population how Facebook is more than just a tool for college students to advertise potlucks on.

“The Republican Party of Sarasota has 10,000 followers on Facebook,” Ferrandino said. “Their people are downright engaged … we have 3,000 people on ours.”

“I think the man is crazy,” resident Sarasota Democrat Shirley Grodberg said at the end of Wednesday’s meeting. “I genuinely think he’s an alien … I wonder where he parks his spaceship … he even looks like an alien!

“He’s a menace to the state,” Grodberg continued. “He thinks he’s a dictator … he has alienated his own party… any pressure will help.”

Pressure is indeed what the campaign has mounted for Governor Scott.

Governor Scott’s “Let’s get to Work Days” have revived a tradition started by former Florida Governor and Senator Bob Graham. The monthly workdays are supposed to bring Scott closer to the lives and concerns of average working Floridians. Scott’s first workday was at Tampa doughnut shop in August. Protesters staked out the parking lot and berated him with pink slips while he worked the register. Protesters cited that minimum wage jobs are not adequate replacements for the cut jobs in other sectors such as education.**

A fervent call-in campaign got people to use their voice in opposition to the governor, on his office voice mail. The calls were in response to the automated, or “robo call,” campaign funded by the Republican Party, which sought to lighten the image of the elected governor. While some messages were more unforgiving than others, most expressed a highly audible distaste for Scott’s efforts, motives, and morals.

“What a disgrace you are to the country and to this state,” Johanna M.’s message states. “You are sick people, you need Jesus Christ in your life, you need to repent … you are beyond repair, hell is waiting for you and people like you, repent and get saved.”***

Most of the calls were from Floridians who had lost jobs, benefits and are now struggling, thanks to Rick Scott.

Actions like the call-in campaign are meant to keep people “feeling empowered,” Susannah Randolph said. “They get to use their voice … people feel they’re a part of a movement.  There’s fun stuff, but we keep it serious, on message.”

And the message is clear. A t-shirt of one die-hard Dem read, “The Heart Bleeds Blue.” Little old ladies donned oversized fuchsia shirts, reminiscent of Tall Tees, reading “PINK SLIP RICK.”

“Elections have consequences, and we’ve seen the consequences,” Rep. Randolph said, driving the point home. “The consequence is that the far right is going to attack the middle class every chance they get, and we’ve got to make sure people know about that.”

He stressed that the party members need to spread the word and get others involved. “Think if we’d had managed to get all those people out to vote in 2000 – we wouldn’t have lost the budget surplus, we wouldn’t be in two endless wars, we wouldn’t have seen tax cuts for the uber wealthy, we wouldn’t have seen constant tax cuts for corporations … and this next election cycle is going to be just as close,” he said.


**Event coverage from tampabay.com

***Audio message at pinksliprick.com

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