Steering clear of Grayson

STEERING CLEAR OF GRAYSON…. Ordinarily, NRCC recruiting trouble in one specific district wouldn’t be of particular interest, but it’s been fascinating to watch recent events in Florida’s 8th district.

The Orlando-area district has generally been quite friendly to Republicans, but last year, Barack Obama won the 8th with 52% support. The same day, district voters elected Rep. Alan Grayson (D), also with 52% of the vote, getting rid of Ric Keller (R) after four terms.

Would Grayson play it safe, hoping to keep his competitive seat by positioning himself as a moderate? Not so much — Grayson has quickly become a liberal firebrand.

Given the district’s right-leaning history, and Grayson’s bold pronouncements, the Republican Party is itching to take him on next year. There is, however, a small problem — the NRCC’s top candidates keep passing on the race.

Former state Sen. Dan Webster, who was seen by many Republicans as someone who could clear the GOP field and help the party avoid a contested primary, took his name out of consideration Tuesday afternoon. […]

That announcement was followed by the news that businessman Jerry Pierce, who had recently discussed putting a large amount of his personal fortune into a congressional bid, said he would not challenge Grayson.

Orange County Mayor Richard Crotty and Orlando businessman Tim Seneff already passed on the race.

The conventional wisdom suggested the opposite would occur. Given Grayson’s notoriety, and unapologetic liberal attitudes, the expectation was that Republicans would be tripping over each other to take him on. For that matters, the NRCC expected fundraising to be a breeze, since far-right activists have quickly come to loathe the freshman Democrat.

And yet, the Republican Party has reached out to four potential candidates, and all of them took a pass.

There may be a larger lesson here for Democratic lawmakers who are reluctant to be audacious.