Senate candidate taunts Sanders: Why don't you endorse Alan Grayson?
© Alan Grayson

One of the Republican candidates for Florida’s open Senate seat, Rep. Ron DeSantis, is trying to fan the internal divisions in the Democratic primary.

In a tongue-in-cheek open letter to Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersWTO faces renewed scrutiny amid omicron threat Overnight Health Care — Presented by March of Dimes — Abortion access for 65M women at stake Hospitals in underserved communities face huge cuts in reckless 'Build Back Better' plan MORE (I-Vt.) on Monday, DeSantis suggested that the presidential hopeful should endorse the Senate campaign of liberal firebrand Rep. Alan GraysonAlan Mark GraysonDeSantis tops Crist, Fried in poll of Florida governor race Florida Rep. Val Demings officially enters Senate race against Rubio Demings raises Democrats' hopes in uphill fight to defeat Rubio MORE (D-Fla.).

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DeSantis argued that Sanders could further escalate his attacks against the establishment by backing Grayson, having already endorsed the primary opponent of Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s (D-Fla.) over the weekend.

Sanders said that the views of Wasserman Schultz’s opponent, Tim Canova, are “much closer to mine than as to Wasserman Schultz."

DeSantis mockingly said Sanders could do more to intervene in Florida politics while sending a national message.

“Since your campaign has indicated that you will not stop at Canova, an endorsement of Alan Grayson cannot be far off,” DeSantis wrote.

DeSantis offered a list of reasons why Sanders should endorse Grayson and further aggravate the Democratic establishment. 

He noted that Grayson is one of the few congressional Democrats to endorse Sanders for president and that members of Democratic leadership have sided with his primary opponent, Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-Fla.). He further added that Grayson is “exceptionally liberal” compared to Murphy, who is backing Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonRepublican Ohio Senate candidate slams JD Vance over previous Trump comments Budowsky: Why GOP donors flock to Manchin and Sinema Countering the ongoing Republican delusion MORE.

“At this point, it is practically the textbook definition of a ‘no-brainer’ that your ‘people-powered’ campaign will get behind the so-called ‘Congressman with Guts’ in Florida’s Democratic Senate primary,” DeSantis wrote. 

Establishment Democrats, including Senate Minority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidBottom line Voters need to feel the benefit, not just hear the message Schumer-McConnell dial down the debt ceiling drama MORE (D-Nev.), view Murphy as a more viable general election candidate. Many see Grayson as too volatile to win a statewide race.

Earlier this month, Grayson and Reid got into a heated exchange at a regular meeting of liberal Democrats on Capitol Hill. Grayson confronted Reid for urging him to suspend his Senate campaign over an ongoing ethics investigation.

“Shame on you. It’s not true,” Grayson said.

Reid retorted: “It is true, and I want you to lose.”

Grayson defended his actions afterward, describing himself as "the anti-establishment candidate in this race" and calling Reid a "smear-monger."

For his part, DeSantis is locked in a five-way GOP primary for the open Senate seat that will be vacated by Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioOvernight Defense & National Security — US tries to deter Russian invasion of Ukraine Senate eyes plan B amid defense bill standoff To counter China, the Senate must confirm US ambassadors MORE (R-Fla.), who is retiring at the end of his term after an unsuccessful presidential campaign. DeSantis faces fellow Rep. David Jolly, as well as real estate developer Carlos Beruff, Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera and businessman Todd Wilcox.

Florida’s Senate primaries will take place on Aug. 30.