Alan Grayson exploring run for U.S. Senate

Democratic former Rep. Alan Grayson has filed to run for the U.S. Senate against Republican incumbent Marco Rubio in 2022.

Grayson, a former three-term congressman from Windermere, said Monday he filed federal paperwork strictly to open up an exploratory effort for a possible run. He said he is not committing yet to actually running.

On Saturday he filed a statement of candidacy with the Federal Election Commission for Florida’s Senate seat in the 2022 election.

“People often abuse the exploratory committee rule by keeping their intentions away from the FEC, and I didn’t want to do that. I have nothing to hide from the FEC,” Grayson said of his filing.

Grayson ran for the Senate in 2016, hoping to take on Rubio that year. However, Grayson lost the 2018 Democratic primary to then fellow Rep. Patrick Murphy. Rubio then handily beat Murphy.

Since then, Grayson tried to reclaim his old seat in Florida’s 9th Congressional District in 2018, but lost to Democratic incumbent Rep. Darren Soto in the Democratic primary that year.

Grayson always has kept his federal campaign infrastructure warm, including fundraising authority, by staying officially filed as a federal candidate somewhere. Last year, he filed to run as a write-in candidate against Republican Rep. Michael Waltz in Florida’s 6th Congressional District. Since January, on paper, he’s been a candidate for the non-existent Florida’s 28th Congressional District, in anticipation of there actually being a CD 28 following reapportionment from the 2020 census.

On Saturday Grayson also filed to formally withdraw his candidacy in the hypothetical CD 28.

His campaign committee, the Committee to Elect Alan Grayson, ended 2020 with $718,439 in the bank. A political action committee aligned with Grayson, the Guts PAC, entered 2021 with about $14,000 on hand.

Yet Grayson’s past appeal — as someone who could be loud, bold, and unabashed in his his liberal politics — always has drawn significant national support among progressive Democrats. Grayson was a frequent go-to interview for national shows seeking feisty progressive viewpoints. He was a top fundraiser for small-donations from across the country, perhaps exceeded only by Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. Still, that did not help Grayson win the 2016 or 2018 elections.

Rubio entered 2021 with about $3 million in his U.S. Senate reelection fund.

Among other potential Democratic candidates is Democratic Rep. Stephanie Murphy of Winter Park, an Orange County colleague of Grayson’s. Murphy has not yet filed any paperwork to run for the Senate, but has appeared to be campaigning, raising money, and building infrastructure.

Murphy ended 2020 with about $1.4 million in her House campaign fund and another $44,000 in a political action committee aligned with her, the Developing a New Generation PAC.

After Grayson, the only Democrat with even modest credentials to formally file for the U.S. Senate in 2022 is Allen Ellison, a two-time congressional candidate from Wauchula, who’s lost twice running in Florida’s 17th Congressional District in southwest Florida.

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