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25 July 2011

Time to move on

The time has come for me to move on. I have decided to resign as the Vice-Chairman as well as my other positions, Technology Committee Chairman and Precinct 26 Committeeman, of the Bay County, Florida Republican Executive Committee. It's time to begin the next chapter in my life, and that includes blogging more. I will continue to comment on US and Florida politics as well as some of my other passions which include music, travel, NASCAR, NFL, NBA, baseball as well as whatever else interests me. So I hope I interest you enough to follow me on Twitter as well, @E_Wall

"Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail." -- Ralph Waldo Emerson
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30 December 2010

2010 in Florida politics: Year in Review


For Florida politics, 2010 has been a transformational year. We saw what were considered "outsider" candidates elected to office at a record rate. The sitting Governor, newly-independent to avoid a primary loss, lost to former Speaker Marco Rubio by 2 to 1 with a Democrat in the race. I was an early supporter of Marco after he announced in May 2009. After meeting him for the first time and hearing the speech he gave on the floor of the Florida House in 2008, I knew he had a bright political future. When I heard his stump speech in person for the first time in the fall of 2009, I felt at that moment he could win the US Senate nomination. Yes, even when I read about the millions that Governor Crist was raising in NY and DC and how Crist had the support of the GOP establishment. Senator-elect Rubio ran a positive campaign and is now on the short list for future nomination in 2012 for Vice President of the United States.

 We are about to inaugurate a new Governor of Florida next week, Rick Scott. Bay County provided crucial votes during the primary and general election and was one of the counties that voted for Rick in the highest percentage statewide. Yesterday Governor-elect Scott returned to Bay County as part of his inauguration's "Appreciation Tour" and the Shrimp Boat, where his first major fund raiser was held here. The Governor has proposed new solutions to Florida's economic and budgetary problems. An attendee at the luncheon remarked that the Governor "will have to fight all the Democrats and 1/2 the Republicans to get his agenda passed". This will be something to watch as the 2011 Legislative Session draws near. I have met with legislators in Tallahassee over the past 3 years, and this upcoming year will be like no other I have known with a GOP super-majority in both houses of the Legislature as well as an all-Republican cabinet. The time for the Republican Party in Florida to deliver is now or face the wrath of the voters in 2 years.

We also have a new Congressman in Steve Southerland. He, Campaign Manager Jonathan Hayes, and the rest of Team Southerland ran a classy campaign in contrast to the personal attacks launched by incumbent Democrat Allen Boyd. Boyd's votes for the healthcare bill which also killed 700 Sallie Mae jobs here locally was the defining issue of the campaign. The level of advertising by 3rd-party 527s was above and beyond anything seen in the past. Steve's victory was truly historic, with the 2nd Congressional District being held by a Republican for the first time since the 19th Century. As a new Congressman Mr. Southerland faces the challenge of joining the 112th US Congress in an era of economic uncertainty not seen since the Great Depression.
2010 was a year that witnessed a historic change in politics. Ordinary citizens became more disgusted with their government and leaders and decided to move in a completely different direction.This is not a reward for the Republicans but an opportunity to turn this state and nation's economy around using free market principles. We cannot afford for them to fail. The stakes are just too high.

15 December 2010

School Board shooter Clay Duke and his Facebook profile

A tragedy was narrowly avoided today here in Panama City. A mentally disturbed man, Clay Duke, took a gun into the Bay County School Board meeting and opened fire. Due to my involvement in politics, I know many of these folks personally or at least met them at least once. Thank God none of them were hurt. Watching the tape on Channel 7 was chilling to watch.
It was even stranger to me personally because a group I am the Vice-Chairman of, the Bay County Republican Party, meets in that very same room every month. The whole scene was surreal and I do feel that Mike Jones did the right thing. He saved the life of every one in that room.
Reports came back that Mr. Duke fired blanks so it would appear in my estimation to be a "suicide-by-cop" incident (UPDATE: He had real bullets). For whatever reason the man wanted to die. Like so many others these days, he was hit pretty hard by the economy. When times are bad financially, it can test men and women like nothing else, make them desperate and lose all sense of perspective.
I wanted to find out more about him, so I check the first place I can think of. His Facebook profile.
 No friends. A new profile, set up about a week ago, with a plan in mind. His page shows he was obsessed with "V for Vendetta". He even spray painted it on the wall before pulling out the pistol. I saw the movie. It was set in an alternate future of a post-apocalyptic fascist England. In the end the protagonist dies as Parliament is destroyed. Did he think he was striking a blow against the system with his acts of violence? From his page I might want to assume that, but in the end, who knows what someone's motivation truly is?
All I could find was this in the "about me" section.

My Testament: Some people (the government sponsored media) will say I was evil, a monster (V)… no… I was just born poor in a country where the Wealthy manipulate, use, abuse, and economically enslave 95% of the population. Rich Republicans, Rich Democrats… same-same… rich… they take turns fleecing us… our few dollars… pyramiding the wealth for themselves. The 95%… the us, in US of A, are the neo slaves of the Global South. Our Masters, the Wealthy, do, as they like to us…

“There’s class warfare, all right, but its my class, the rich class that’s making war and we’re winning”
- Warren Buffet

Rise like lions after slumber
In unvanquishable number.
Shake your chains to earth like dew.
Which in sleep has fallen on you.
Ye are many – they are few.


He set the page to allow comments by everyone, and there are nearly 1000, mostly negative attacks peppered with " I saw this on CNN and now I'm commenting on his page" type-stuff. Why would anyone bother to insult a dead man? I thought it just seemed creepy in my opinion.
What are the lessons to be learned? Maybe police should have a physical presence at any future meetings. Metal detectors are expensive and whether the School Board will vote to install one at the meeting room, is unclear at this point. Regardless of what is decided as far as security is concerned, I am thankful and grateful that none of the men and women who were in the room when Clay Duke decided to end his life were harmed.

04 October 2010

Rick Scott rising in polls

Generic image of rick scottImage via WikipediaFL Governor campaign update, 10/4/10
Naples businessman and first-time candidate for Florida Governor Rick Scott has been rising in the polls since defeating Bill McCollum in the GOP primary this past August. His ads tying CFO Sink to President Obama have been particularly effective in light of the President's rising unpopularity among independents. Scott has a higher favorability rating than Sink, 41 to 39 according to a Quinnipiac University poll of likely voters taken the week of September 23rd. 48 percent of voters polled preferred Rick Scott on rebuilding Florida's economy. CNN/Time/Opinion Research also released a poll of likely voters showing the Scott campaign barely ahead of Alex Sink 47-45. The GOP has united around Scott (not including McCollum, however) in a major way. The Republican base and Tea Party have really taken to Rick's message and have embraced his pledge to not take a salary if elected. His numbers are rising despite the mixed response to his TV campaign, noted by the Quinnipiac University poll. Eighty-nine percent of those surveyed said they had seen Scott's TV ads, and 54 percent of that group called the ads "annoying". By October all political ads are annoying, but after such a divisive GOP primary, those numbers really aren't that bad in my personal opinion.
The Scott campaign has good reason to be optimistic, even if Nate Silver isn't. "The polls here are in conflict, with Mason-Dixon showing a 7-point lead for Alex Sink, the Democrat, while Rasmussen Reports has a 6-point lead for Rick Scott, the Republican. On balance, the new polls show that Mr. Scott’s chances have improved slightly: while he is still the underdog in the race, his chances of winning have improved to 42 percent, from 37 percent, according to the (538) model." Nate Silver, FiveThirtyEight
UPDATE: Rick Scott now has a 60% chance to win. Nate revised his findings...

I met Rick and his wife last Monday here in Panama City and heard him speak at the opening of the local campaign office in downtown Panama City. His message resonated with the crowd in attendance, who all had a great opportunity to personally talk to Rick. Bay County voted for Rick by the highest margin in the state of Florida during the primary. His signs are everywhere here and I expect him to win the race and have a solid finish here locally in the Panhandle.
For my local Panama City readers, I read that FL Democratic gubernatorial candidate Alex Sink considered choosing our own Panama City mayor, Scott Clemons, as her running mate. Sounds like Clemons had a real future in the Democratic Party until he endorsed opportunistic independent candidate and current Governor Charlie Crist in his race for the US Senate against his own party's nominee, Kendrick Meek. This illustrates the internal conflict present in a floundering Democratic Party, struggling to swim upstream against a rising tide of voter anger resulting from the failures of the last 18 months and the unpopularity of the national Democratic leadership.
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15 September 2010

Outrage

Official photo of Florida Governor Charlie CristImage via WikipediaI first saw this story Sunday night on Raw story about Gov. Crist's decision to reverse course (again) on another issue, this time gay rights. "The document provided to RawStory.com includes Crist's vocal support for gay couples, including hospital visitation, inheritance and adoption rights; opposition to the ban on gays serving in the military; support for anti-discrimination laws and appropriations for HIV and AIDS programs." His announcement drew praise from some gay activists, leading one to call it a "new day". It might gain him potential Democratic votes in South Florida and elsewhere this fall, but the truth is a mere 2 years ago in 2008 when Gov. Crist was lobbying privately for the GOP VP nomination he endorsed Amendment 2. This constitutional amendment banned gay marriage in the state of Florida. He also opposed gay adoption back then. The Governor attracted the attention of gay investigative journalists who gathered information on the Governor's sexual history. They included Crist in the 2009 HBO documentary Outrage which ran in theaters and on HBO, the documentary "asserted that Crist was himself gay: in the film, two anonymous subjects claimed to have had sex with the governor, and a former girlfriend was quoted as saying, “Call me in ten years and I’ll tell you a story.” The issue is not whether Crist is gay or not. That is between him and God. The larger issue is that he gives the impression that there is a complete lack of personal authenticity there, with the way his positions change on the issues with the day or depend on who is interviewing him.  If he was a Democrat, out and pro-gay rights from the beginning none of this would be an issue.  But by being closeted he leaves himself vulnerable to blackmail. Is that the reason Jim Greer received the Governor's complete support long after is was known that he was abusing his American Express card and power as RPOF Chairman? What did Greer and Delmar Johnson know about Crist's lifestyle, and how did they use it to stay in power? He returned Greer's money but refuses to return the money of hard-working Americans who thought they were donating to a Republican candidate. Why?
Both candidates opposing the Governor for the US Senate seat have pointed out these inconsistencies. This was the response from the Meek campaign to his new stand on gay rights: "Can anyone believe anything Charlie Crist says anymore?" Meek's campaign manager Abe Dyk said to the Washington Blade. "It’s obvious Charlie Crist is willing to say anything. The only thing Charlie Crist says today that you can believe tomorrow is that he wants to be elected." from Raw Story. On the Republican side many of the average GOP voters feel betrayed by the Governor and the Rubio campaign is having a field day with Crist's flip-flops. This will only continue and escalate over the course of the campaign because he offers what you would call a "target-rich environment" politically. If he is smart he will publicly address these rumors directly but he either can't or won't because of what his advisors are telling him. I don't expect politicians to tell us, their constituents, the truth. I'm too cynical for that. However, I do expect them to be true to themselves.
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13 September 2010

Humble Pie

Bill McCollumImage via WikipediaToday is September 13th, nearly 3 weeks after the GOP primary former candidate for Governor and current Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum has not endorsed Rick Scott, as is the normal custom in politics. I read this today: "Reached after an event at the Capitol today, Attorney General Bill McCollum was still mum on whether he will endorse anyone in the governor's race: "There's no update." McCollum, who lost an expensive (and bitter) primary battle with Rick Scott, also would not comment on who he plans to vote for. He said he is focused on getting Pam Bondi elected as the next attorney general and on tomorrow's initial arguments in the lawsuit challenging the new federal health care law."This was posted by Lee Logan on tampabay.com at 11:56:55 AM today September 13, 2010
I have met Bill McCollum more than once and asked him questions about his policies directly. I sat in on a campaign meeting of theirs and I really think they underestimated Rick Scott early on. Scott captured that anti-incumbent sentiment and in my opinion there wasn't much Bill could do about that, especially with a lot less money on hand than Rick. He was a member of the US Congress, a legislative body with an approval rating of roughly 20% these days. The ads tying the General to Charlie Crist's friend, former disgraced RPOF Chairman Jim Greer could have been what pushed Rick over the top. I can see why Bill is still bitter. It was a negative race, no question.
Sometimes in life when events seen as "bad" happen, such as losing an election, making difficult financial choices or ending a relationship, you have to accept things as they are, not how you wish them to be, and move on. Rick Scott won. It is what it is. Bill just needs to do the right thing and support the party nominee, then retire from politics with grace. I'll give the General this, at least he didn't switch parties and run as an Independent candidate for Governor.

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10 September 2010

Shame on Allen

Allen BoydImage via WikipediaI finally got the chance to see the new ad by Rep. Allen Boyd (D-FL), and man is it stupid...He keeps using one speech in Mayo, FL that he chops up to make Steve Southerland look "extreme". He doesn't even use complete sentences! The man can't run on his record. He can't admit how much he votes with Nancy Pelosi. He votes with her so much we should call him "Nancy Boyd".  His so-called website, "Shame on Steve Southerland" is terrible and amateurish. Not what I would expect from a incumbent with deep pockets of special interest money that has held office since 1997.
I bet Steve has too much class to mention that "over Boyd's first 10 years in Congress, Boyd Family Farms has received $1.2 million in subsidy payments, placing him in the top 3 percent of farmers receiving subsidies nationally."(wikipedia) and that his 30-year-old son, John Boyd, was arrested in Arizona, and charged with alien smuggling in 2008. It was actually a criminal matter, not a family matter as the Congressman characterized it at the time. He might not mention the Congressman's 2009 divorce either but I can imagine that there is some pretty interesting information in those documents. I think Boyd will lose this fall. The only hope for Congressman Boyd is if he can hold Tallahassee, the Democratic stronghold in Florida's District 2. He voted for health care, against Sallie Mae and for the bailouts. He has shown in Town Halls that he does not care about the concerns of his constituents with what can only be described as contempt for the 15 voters in attendance at the Town Hall August 5 in Mayo because they "hadn't read the health care bill" that he himself had failed to read before voting the way Nancy Pelosi told him to. He has nothing to offer our district except for his "power" and "influence" but really all that amounts to are photo-ops at Tyndall and earmarks for pet projects. According to OpenSecrets.org,  "Allen Boyd sponsored or co-sponsored 36 earmarks totaling $48,792,000 in fiscal year 2010 ranking 48th out of 435 representatives". It's time to send Allen Boyd into retirement, back to the government-subsidized farm with his Congressional pension.
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