Observations and musings on Jacksonville Politics

To Have And To Hold: The Value of Primaries

The retirement of US Senator Mel Martinez, and the subsequent drama that has unfolded around the Republican candidates vying to replace him—former House Speaker Marco Rubio and Governor Charlie Crist—has thrust the age-old debate about the benefits of the primary system into the limelight.  To a lesser extent, the battle is also raging in the Governor’s race—where GOP leaders are trying to avoid a Bill McCollum vs. Charles Bronson fight—and in the race for Attorney General—where Democrats are trying to avoid a three way primary battle pitting Dave Aronberg against Dan Gelber and Rod Smith.

While not perfect, the primary system does exist for a reason.  Voters within a party have the right to have their voice heard when it comes to choosing the candidate that will represent their party in the general election.  (Of course, my personal preference would be a system that allows voters to choose from any candidate in the race, regardless of party where the top two vote getters advance to the general election.  The removes the current possibility to discriminate against voters who do not choose to belong to one of the main parties.)  Yet, although we are several hundred years into this unique American experience of democracy, leaders in both parties are attempting to deny voters the right to choose which candidate will represent their party.

The most visible battle has been the battle within the Republican Party over the Charlie Crist vs. Marco Rubio Senate race.  Jim Greer, the GOP Party Chairman and a long-time ally of Charlie Crist, made his preference for Crist rather clear when he attempted to use his power as Chairman to endorse Crist’s campaign.  While his efforts were thwarted by another member of the Executive Committee, he has continued to take shots at Marco Rubio.  Likewise, the Republican Party made it abundantly clear to Agriculture Commissioner Charles Bronson that his presence in a Republican Gubernatorial primary was not desired, something that was amazingly insulting to a man who has served the party quite faithfully for years.  Republicans are not alone, of course.  The leadership of the Democratic Party has been working just as diligently to avoid a 3-way primary for Attorney General, with the anticipated campaigns of Dave Aronberg, Rod Smith and Dan Gelber.

Florida’s voters should be insulted by the arrogance of party leadership that seems to presume that they have the authority to make decisions on behalf of voters.  If more than one candidate is interested in a race, party leadership should allow them the opportunity to make their case to the voters.  The voters are capable of deciding which one will best represent their party in a general election.

While smoking may be banned in public spaces, the era of the “smoke-filled back room” appears to have returned to Florida politics.  Despite the storied failures of “back room” candidates over the years (does the name Warren G. Harding and the Teapot Dome Scandal ring a bell for anyone?) Florida’s political elite have decided that they know what is best for the state.

The current arrogance of the leadership in our political parties makes you wonder how many potential “stars” they are bypassing as they push for what they see as the “most certain” path.  It may be hard to realize this when one is secluded in Tallahassee, but the candidates that voters often take to are not always the first choice of the party elite.  1978 is an excellent example of that.  One wonders if there would have ever been a Senator Bob Graham if the Democratic Party leadership had thrown their weight around in that seven-person Democratic primary

Let the voters decide, Mr. Greer and Ms. Thurman.  We are amazingly competent.

Filed under: Florida, Florida Politics, , , , , , , , ,

Meet Florida’s New (Temporary) Speaker

Meet Larry Cretul.

The state House’s acting speaker is a low-key, little-known but well-liked conservative Republican real estate broker from north-central Florida.

Rep. Larry Cretul prefers to work behind the scenes and likes to ride motorcycles, friends and colleagues say.

Cretul, 61, of Ocala, will lead the chamber at least until a series of investigations into Speaker Ray Sansom’s connections to a state college are resolved.

Cretul is a native of Trenton, Mich., a Baptist deacon and Navy veteran. He and wife Lana have two sons and a grandson. Before being elected to the House in 2002, Cretul was a Marion County commissioner for eight years, serving twice as chairman and twice as vice chairman.

“He’s not a bombastic type,” said Sen. Carey Baker, R-Eustis, who represents some of same areas as Cretul. “He’s a quiet professional.”

Filed under: Florida, Florida Legislature, Florida Politics, , , , , , , ,

Democratic Chairwoman Paid to Lobby Florida Democrats

I find this shockingly bizarre. How can this possibly be considered ethical?  (For interested Democrats, Al Cardenas is the former Chairman of the Florida Republican Party and a top fundraiser for George W. Bush.)

Karen Thurman, expected to easily win re-election as chairwoman of the Florida Democratic Party on Saturday, has reconfigured her strange-bedfellows partnership with Miami lawyer/lobbyist Al Cardenas.

Cardenas, the former chairman of the Republican Party of Florida, was paying Thurman $3,500 a month to help his law firm lobby the Democratic-controlled Congress on behalf of MIami-Dade County.

Filed under: Florida Politics, , , , , , , , ,

Still nothing from Jacksonville’s Republican House delegation regarding their Speaker

The furor over Speaker of the House Ray Sansom’s dealmaking grows even louder with newspaper editorials, political groups, citizens, and Democratic party chair Karen Thurman calling for him to either step down from one of his two jobs or be ousted.  A poll, launched on December 4th by Progress Florida (albeit a left-leaning group), with 1,882 Floridians having voted over the course of a week, finds that 97% of respondents believe Sansom should either resign (51%), quit his college job (23%) or be censured by his colleagues in the House (23%).  In response to the poll, Florida Progress has launched a new site, www.sacksansom.com.

While some Republicans are quietly grumbling under their breath, there is still nary a sound coming from the Duval Republican House delegation.  You know, I would expect that from Mike Weinstein who is friends with Ray Sansom and held a joint fundraiser with him earlier this year.  Why Sansom is even in a picture on the front page of Weinstein’s website.  (I can’t believe he hasn’t taken that down yet.)

So what’s up with the rest of our local  Republican members of the House?  Maybe they should start singing the Sansom Anthem louder so that we can hear them.

The Sansom Anthem
(Sung to the tune of Na Na Hey Hey)

Na na na na na na na na
Hey hey Ray Good-bye

Na na na na na na na na
Hey hey Ray Good-bye

We’ll never love you
The way that we loved you
‘Cause when we did, you lied and then you
Made us cry
You might have fooled us Ray, but then you showed your (showed your)
True colors so pucker up and kiss our
Yes, pucker up and kiss our–pucker up and kiss our–behinds
(chorus x 2)

We want to jeer you
You double-dippin’ heel you
While all the rest of us are
Standin’– in the unemployment line
You might think you’re entitled
But it’s only–yes it is only
You know that it is only–know that it’s only–your pride
(chorus x10)

We’re really sick to death
Of all of you fat cats
Abusing power, stealing all our rights, everyday
You know it’s true, Ray
We’re sick of the games you play
Can’t let you get away with all that dough
Oh no no no

Na Na Na Na
Na Na Na Na
Hey Hey Ray
Goodbye (rpt 2 end)

Reworked Lyrics Written By
Carol Tucker, MA
Pensacola, FL

Filed under: Florida Legislature, Florida Politics, Jacksonville, , , , , ,

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