Adoptive Floridian Josh Hammer says it’s the new capital of Red State America. We can only hope he’s right about that.
In the Sunshine State Tuesday evening, Governor Ron DeSantis cruised to a second term with an astounding near-20-point margin of victory over former Gov. Charlie Crist, and Republican Senator Marco Rubio routed Democratic challenger Rep. Val Demings by more than 16 points. Both DeSantis and Rubio won the state’s most populous county, 70-plus percent Hispanic Miami-Dade County—DeSantis by double digits. Both Republican standard-bearers also won majority-Hispanic Osceola County, in the Orlando area, and DeSantis also flipped Palm Beach County from blue to red.
All other Florida Republicans running statewide also won, and Republicans also secured supermajority status in both the state senate and the state house. U.S. congressional races in Florida that were labeled before the election as toss-ups, such as the 13th and 27th congressional districts, uniformly broke for Republicans—and often not in particularly close fashion. Some other states, such as Texas and Iowa, also had good election nights for Republicans; but in no state did the GOP perform better, up and down the ballot, than in Florida.
All of this is simply astonishing from Florida, the one-time paradigmatic “swing” state that famously decided the 2000 presidential election by a paltry 537 votes out of nearly 6 million cast. Indeed, just four years ago, DeSantis eked out his first statewide victory over Democrat Andrew Gillum by a margin of 0.4 percent. And DeSantis’ victory over Gillum was not even the closest statewide race in Florida that cycle; Rick Scott won his U.S. Senate race over Bill Nelson that same year by a microscopic 0.12 percent margin.
Yet, just four years later, Florida is no longer a purple state. It is a red state—in fact, a dark red state. Consider, as but one more data point, that DeSantis won reelection by a larger statewide margin than did Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt, who won his reelection race Tuesday night by just under 14 percent. Oklahoma is perhaps the nation’s single reddest state; in every presidential election since George W. Bush’s reelection in 2004, every single Oklahoma county has voted for the Republican presidential candidate. But in 2022, DeSantis won in former “swing” state Florida by a wider margin than Stitt did in ruby red Oklahoma.
The bottom line is as straightforward as it would have been jarring to hear just a handful of years ago: Florida, the nation’s third-most populous state, has surpassed Texas, the nation’s second-most populous state, as the capital of red state America.
As Republicans lick their wounds from Tuesday’s various disappointments and engage in some deep introspection about what went wrong at the national level, one key question thus becomes: What lessons can Florida Republicans impart to Republicans elsewhere?
The TRULY “key” question is, how many of said Repugnicans would be at all interested, sincerely interested, in learning them? Or would take them to heart, or act on them?
Man, that Don Brewer sure did himself one hell of a lot of drumming on that sparse, bare-bones little kit of his, didn’t he?
Update! Some fun facts about GFR I bet y’all didn’t know. Don’t feel bad, I didn’t know some of it myself, and I’ve been listening to Mark, Don, and Mel since I was still in knee-britches and high socks.
Grand Funk Railroad was formed as a trio in 1969 by Mark Farner (guitar, keyboards, harmonica, vocals) and Don Brewer (drums, vocals) from Terry Knight and the Pack, and Mel Schacher (bass) from Question Mark & the Mysterians. Knight soon became the band’s manager and also named the band as a play on words for the Grand Trunk Western Railroad, a well-known rail line in Michigan. First achieving recognition at the 1969 Atlanta International Pop Festival, the band was signed by Capitol Records. After a raucous, well-received set on the first day of the festival, Grand Funk was asked back to play at the 1970 Atlanta International Pop Festival II the following year. Patterned after hard-rock power trios such as Cream, the band, with Terry Knight’s marketing savvy, developed its own popular style. In August 1969 the band released its first album titled On Time, which sold over one million copies and was awarded a gold record in 1970.
In February 1970 a second album, Grand Funk (or The Red Album), was awarded gold status. Despite critical pans and little airplay, the group’s first six albums (five studio releases and one live album) were quite successful.
The hit single “I’m Your Captain (Closer to Home)”, from the album Closer to Home, released in June 1970, was considered stylistically representative of Terry Knight and the Pack’s recordings. In the spring of 1970, Knight launched an intensive advertising campaign to promote the album Closer to Home. That album was certified multiplatinum despite a lack of critical approval. The band spent $100,000 on a New York City Times Square billboard to advertise Closer to Home.
By 1971, Grand Funk equaled the Beatles’ Shea Stadium attendance record, but sold out the venue in just 72 hours whereas the Beatles concert took a few weeks to sell out. Following Closer to Home, The double disc Live Album was also released later in 1970, and was another gold disc recipient. Survival and E Pluribus Funk were both released in 1971. E Pluribus Funk celebrated the Shea Stadium show with an embossed depiction of the stadium on the album cover’s reverse.
By late 1971, the band was concerned with Knight’s managerial style and fiscal responsibility. This growing dissatisfaction led Grand Funk Railroad to fire Knight in early 1972. Knight sued for breach of contract, which resulted in a protracted legal battle. At one point, Knight repossessed the band’s gear before a gig at Madison Square Garden. In VH1’s Behind the Music Grand Funk Railroad episode, Knight stated that the original contract would have run out in about three months, and that the smart decision for the band would have been to just wait out the time. However, at that moment, the band members felt they had no choice but to continue and fight for the rights to their careers and name. The legal battle with Knight lasted two years and ended when the band settled out of court. Knight came out the clear winner with the copyrights and publisher’s royalties to every Grand Funk recording made from March 1969 through March 1972, not to mention a large payoff in cash and oil wells. Farner, Brewer and Schacher were given the rights to the name Grand Funk Railroad.
In 1972 Grand Funk Railroad added Craig Frost on keyboards full-time. Originally, the band had attempted to attract Peter Frampton, late of Humble Pie; however, he was not available due to signing a solo record deal with A&M Records. The addition of Frost, however, was a stylistic shift from Grand Funk’s original garage-band based rock and roll roots to a more rhythm and blues/pop rock-oriented style. With the new lineup, Grand Funk released Phoenix, its sixth album of original music, in September 1972.
To refine Grand Funk’s sound, the band then secured veteran musician Todd Rundgren as a producer. Its two most successful albums and two number-one hit singles resulted: the Don Brewer-penned “We’re an American Band” (from the number two album We’re an American Band, released in July 1973) and “The Loco-Motion” (from their 1974 number five album Shinin’ On, written by Carole King and Gerry Goffin and originally recorded by Little Eva). “We’re an American Band” became Grand Funk’s first number-one hit on Farner’s 25th birthday, followed by Brewer’s number-19 hit “Walk Like a Man”. “The Loco-Motion” in 1974 was Grand Funk’s second chart-topping single, followed by Brewer’s number-11 hit “Shinin’ On”. The band continued touring the U.S., Europe and Japan.
In 1974 Grand Funk engaged Jimmy Ienner as producer and reverted to using their full name: Grand Funk Railroad. The cover of All the Girls in the World Beware!!! (December 1974) depicted the band members’ heads superimposed on the bodies of bodybuilders Arnold Schwarzenegger and Franco Columbu. This album spawned the band’s last two top-10 hits, “Some Kind of Wonderful” and “Bad Time” in late 1974/early 1975.
I put the stuff that was news to me in bold, so’s nobody would miss it. Unlikely as it may seem after all that, there’s more to the Grand Funk story even yet.
Footstompin’ update! What, no mention above of what I remember being one of their hugest hits?
WHOA, that’s good squishy!