Lessons Learned from Florida

(This column authored by Chris Ingram, originally appeared on FrontPage Florida, Jan. 30, 2007.)

Having had the national spotlight leading up to its elections last night, the Florida Presidential Preference Primary (and state property tax amendment) made some real winners, and confirmed a few losers.

Florida in general was of course a big winner having moved its Primary Election date up several weeks to January 29th giving the state and at least its Republican voters well-deserved national attention. The sunshine state can also be pleased in that there weren’t any major voting problems here in this state which has previously been known for serious cases of Electile Disfunction (both in who we elect and how we conduct elections).First and foremost, congratulations to Sen. John McCain who proved all the D.C. beltway insiders/establishment types wrong and showed that he has appeal that is broad and deep within the G.O.P. The senator won Florida’s closed primary — where only registered Republicans can vote — something many McCain naysayers said he could not do. McCain also certainly owes in-part much of his victory to Florida Governor Charlie Crist who made a last minute endorsement of McCain on Saturday night.

The “Straight Talk Express” travels next to the twenty-plus states that have elections on February 5th including New York, California, New Jersey, and Georgia.

For McCain, an expected endorsement from Rudy Giuliani, and possible nod from California Governor Schwarzenegger could provide him the momentum he needs to win a majority of states next week and lock up the G.O.P. nomination.

Florida voters showed Mitt Romney what he has already repeatedly learned: he can’t win in a state where others are competing. Mitt has spent all that money and doesn’t have much to show for it. Albert Einstein once said, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different outcome.”

If Romney really believes he is as savvy with the dollar as he thinks he is, he ought to pack up this campaign and go home, and leave his children some of the inheritance they are expecting because no one is buying tickets to ride the Romney train.

The biggest loser last night had to be Rudy Giuliani who has provided fodder for Campaign School 101 instructors for years to come. The lesson they will teach: don’t try to defy conventional wisdom by foregoing competing in a half a dozen states before trying to make a strong showing. Momentum matters in politics, and Rudy just ignored that cardinal rule. Oh and Rudy, memo to your campaign team: all those New Yorkers who live down in Miami you were counting on, they’re all Democrats! Any Introduction to Political Science student could have told you that.

Mike Huckabee’s less-than stellar fourth-place showing would send most any other candidate home, but Huckabee is a believer and will march on at least to campaign in a handful of southern states next week. He currently leads the field in Georgia (if you believe the polls). But even a win in the Peach State wouldn’t be enough to re-energize this fading bunny.

Talk about believers, Ron Paul remains Ron Paul, and if nothing else provides some comic relief. The lesson for Ron Paul supporters is this: you can litter the streets of our lovely state with twelve million yard signs but they don’t influence voters. Now please, do the right thing and go pick all those signs up.

On the Democrat side, Sen. Hillary Clinton showed she’s a real Clinton by showing up in Florida on Tuesday night for a victory party in a state where neither she nor any of the other Democrats competed. Her little election night party made her appear (at least to less-sophisticated voters — which is of course her base), that she actually won something. But she didn’t win anything. Thanks to DNC Chair Howard Dean, the Democrats’ election was nothing more than a beauty contest, and nothing less than a meaningless straw poll.

The best Clinton moment was when she said she’d work to make sure Florida’s delegates get seated. Yeah, now she says that. Does anyone think she would have been so concerned with Florida’s disenfranchised Democrats if Obama had won?

The other big issue for Florida voters was of course Amendment 1, which gives some tax relief to homeowners, and creates a portable tax cap benefit when current homesteaded property owners move within the state. The big winner on Amendment 1 was Governor Charlie Crist who was the primary cheerleader for the tax exchange effort. The big losers on Amendment 1 were of course new homebuyers who will pay for the burden lifted from homesteaded property owners who can now take their artificially created tax rate with them.

Governor Crist can thank Howard Dean (at least partially) for the sizeable victory of Amendment 1. No doubt, with the Democrats’ presidential vote not counting, many Democrats stayed home and didn’t vote against the effort as many of them likely would have done.

As the old saying goes, politics certainly makes strange bedfellows.

And as Sen. Barry Goldwater once said, “Sex and politics are a lot alike. You don’t have to be good at them to enjoy them.”

Ain’t this fun?

One thought on “Lessons Learned from Florida”

  1. Charlie Crist is a joke of a governor. If McCain picks him, he’s doomed because he should win Fla. without that plastic, no good, doesn’t believe in anything, Charlie Crist on the ballot.


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