Let me cite an odd source, this Errol Louis column in the New York Daily News where Grayson lays out the higher stakes for his re-election fight:
"I am the first Democrat to represent Orlando in 34 years," he told me. "If I do win reelection, and 25 Democrats go down because they were too weak, too indecisive and pretended to be Republicans, then that will be a learning moment for all the Democrats."
So far, the strategy has worked splendidly. Grayson is doing what some Republicans mastered years ago and turning his House perch into a national podium. By offering a strident voice to progressives, he has won a national reputation, and reaped huge rewards for his campaign warchest. He has obviously won the scorn of the right as well, and I am sure many people in McCollum country feel this usurper must be turned back.
But riled conservatives and the presumption Grayson would be vulnerable has actually hurt the GOP in a couple ways. Most notably, the primary field is mega-crowded. Former Senate candidate Dan Webster might have been an establishment favorite if he entered the race sooner, but now businessman Bruce O'Donoghue has built up significant name recognition, attorney and talk radio guy Todd Long has commissioned polls that show him leading. Official TEA Party candidate Peg Dunmire has also severely muddied the waters, and is strengthening cred with the far right despite people trying to tie her to Grayson.
It may not be as hard as people think for Republicans to pull constituencies back together after a tough August primary. But it will be hard for an individual candidate to bring together financing. That is probably why the NRCC decision to target this district means so much right now. But I expect the Democrats will toss a good deal of dough into this on Grayson's behalf. Money should still favor the incumbent, and I think this is a very winnable race.