Efforts by Florida Democrats are currently underway to get Miami Heat legend Dwyane Wade to run for the Florida Senate seat currently held by Sen. Rick Scott.
Matt Dixon and Jonathan Allen of NBC News noted that Wade and Hall of Famer Grant Hill are the key individuals who Democrats are trying to recruiting in an effort to unseat Scott in 2024.
“NBA legends Dwyane Wade and Grant Hill have rocketed to the top of the recruitment lists for some Florida Democrats looking for a strong candidate to run against Sen. Rick Scott in 2024,” Dixon and Allen wrote.
“There have been separate active efforts to get both to consider forays into state politics, which have not been driven by either the state or national parties, three sources familiar with the situation said.”
One spokesman for a donor group explained why Wade has become such a subject of interest.
“Dwyane Wade is a Florida legend, whose leadership past and present has a lot of folks in our state sending feelers out,” said Ray Paultre, the executive director of the Florida Alliance, a progressive donor group that plays a significant role in Florida Democratic politics. “We have seen former athletes, in both parties, bring something special to the political landscape. He hasn’t been officially approached, but he is on the list of four or five dream candidates to challenge Rick Scott.
“There are different groups talking to a diverse set of potential candidates — all of which would be great options. I won’t speak to where each of those conversations are, but I can confirm that there are organized efforts to engage everyone you’ve mentioned.”
Attempting to entice Wade might not result in success, in part because the new Hall of Famer hasn’t expressed any interest in running for office.
In addition, Wade recently explained that he no longer lives in Florida because of what he perceives as a lack of acceptance toward his transgender daughter.
“My family would not be accepted or feel comfortable there,” Wade said. “And so that’s one of the reasons why I do not live there.”
Scott was first elected as governor of Florida in 2010 and served two consecutive terms. In 2018, he defeated incumbent Sen. Bill Nelson and announced plans to run for re-election in 2024 earlier this year.
The tenure of Scott in the U.S. Senate has been marked by a number of different controversies, including his recent “Rescue America” bill that would end some federal entitlement programs.
In the case of Hill, he played multiple seasons for the Orlando Magic and continues to live in the area. Like Wade, he has not indicated any interest in challenging Scott or any other political candidate.
One possible reason why the Democratic donors are pursuing such high-profile possibilities is because of the continuing struggles to get a Democrat elected to major office.
Nelson was the last Florida Democrat to win a U.S. Senate seat in 2012, while the Democrats have not won a governor’s race or controlled the Florida Legislature since the 1990s.
Since retiring from the NBA in 2019, Wade has stayed close to the game. That included his decision to become part of the ownership group for the Utah Jazz. That decision sparked some controversy, with Heat owner Micky Arison expressing disappointment that Wade chose not to become part of the Heat ownership.
For now, the best that Florida Democratic donors can likely hope for is that Wade and Hill will actively try to elect whoever ends up winning the upcoming Democratic primary. That’s because asking for more doesn’t appear to be an option.