Racism, conspiracy theories fuel Republicans’ Florida strategy

WEST PALM BEACH, FLORIDA - NOVEMBER 03: U.S. Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) (L) and Florida Democratic governor candidate Andrew Gillum campaign together during a Get Out the Vote rally at the Meyer Amphitheatre on November 03, 2018 in West Palm Beach, Florida. Sen. Nelson and Mayor Gillum are in tight races against their Republican opponents. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Democrats Bill Nelson and Andrew Gillum are still fighting for democracy in Florida.

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Republicans are reverting to tried and true tactics to win the three still-uncalled races in Florida, with their eyes particularly on the prize of a Senate seat, with the governorship icing on the deplorable cake. Racism, conspiracy theories, and a redux of the “Brooks Brothers” riots of 2000 are their strategy to get current governor and former Medicare fraudster Rick Scott to the Senate. They’re trying to turn the very concept of one person, one vote and every vote counting into an effort by Democrats to “steal” an election.

Republican “lawyers, strategists and advisers involved in the effort” told The New York Times that they are expressly attempting to “discredit the state’s recount as illegitimate and potentially rife with fraud” so that they can strengthen the GOP‘s Senate majority and get more judges confirmed more easily. They feel the need to stem the massive Democratic victory in the House, particularly after having lost, finally, the Arizona Senate seat to the Democrats. That means following the orange behemoth in the White House down the racist path of saying black people voting is fraud. Trump “equates his political success with that of Ron DeSantis, the Republican nominee for governor whose campaign was taken over by Trump aides,” these Republicans tell the Times. He also “believes he ensured” Scott’s victory with his appearances in Florida during the last weeks of the campaign. So, “one person close to him” tell the Times he views the recounts as “akin to a personal attack.”

With a 100 or so Republican National Committee staffers and lawyers, as well as “thousands of trained volunteers” on the ground to back them up, Scott and DeSantis are having Trump take the lead on calling fraud, with an assist from the reliable whack-job conspiracy theorists. James O’Keefe protégé Laura Loomer, hopefully soon-to-be-indicted Roger Stone, and Rush Limbaugh have all been pushing a story that “the Broward County Sheriff’s Office had staged a bomb threat at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport on Sunday to cover up the discovery of a box of provisional ballots that were left in a rental car.”

It’s not working so great in the courts this time around, however. Maybe the repeat of 2000 is a cautionary tale even for a Republican-appointed judge, given what a debacle Bush-Cheney turned out to be, and the fact that out of it grew Trump. Judge Tuter in Broward County not only refused Scott’s request to impound voting machines and ballots, he warned Republicans that “We need to be careful what we say. … These words mean things these days, as everybody in the room knows.” In not so many words, cut the racist shit. It is telling that while the recount is happening in every county in the state, Republicans are focused on Broward, where a majority of the population is Hispanic and black and the director of elections is a black woman.

As of election day, Scott leads by 12,562 votes and DeSantis by 33,684. All 67 counties are conducting machine recounts of all the ballots, to be completed by 3 PM ET on Thursday. A manual recount has to happen for races within a margin of 0.25 percent. The Nelson-Scott race ended with a margin of 0.15 percent.

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