And other interesting observations from the campaign trail
By Chris Ingram
The state that gave the world the hanging-chad has built a reputation for interesting politics, and the Sunshine State will certainly please political watchers again this year. From the dissaray in the Democrat Party’s candidates for governor and the U.S. Senate to the Republican’s zeal for embracing career politicians (and the multi-millionaire who seeks to end that zeal), here is a synopsis of all the major candidates, and one not so major candidate. And yes, one of them likes to dine at Hooters. Find out who…
Jeff Greene, Democrat candidate for U.S. Senate
Jeff Greene apparently never heard the old saying “you are the company you keep.” The man who had Mike Tyson (boxer, rapist, and thug) as the best man at his wedding, and Heidi Fleis (the Hollywood Madam) as a house guest certainly has judgment issues. The fact that he made his millions by investing in credit default swaps (betting against sub-prime mortgage holders’ ability to pay), won’t endear him to many Floridians facing difficult economic times either.
But the man has money, and Rep. Kendrick Meek, who up until a month ago was the presumptive Democrat Party nominee, has recently disclosed ethical issues he’d rather not talk about.
The question in this race is, will Greene’s money be enough to overcome Meek’s organization and presumptive nominee status in the primary? Meek received a lot of early support from notable Democrats but that support may fade as Greene spends his millions on TV and more details about Meek’s shady deal comes to light. But the bottom line is, Democrat voters aren’t as mad as Republican voters are at the establishment and incumbents, and that fact helps Meek.
Right now I’d say Greene’s chances are at least 50:50, but only if he gets himself out of his own TV ads. There’s just something odd and uncomfortable about this guy and it comes through when he talks on TV.
Kendrick Meek, Democrat candidate for U.S. Senate
Congressman Meek probably wishes he had run for reelection to his U.S. House seat – which he inherited from his momma. With Jeff Greene ready to unload millions and recent revelations that Meek, his staff, and family have questionable ties to a Miami developer of ill repute, he could’ve kept that House seat warm for a long time and waited for a better opportunity for a statewide run.
Still, Meek has organization and support from loyal liberal Democrats across most of the state and he remains a formidable opponent at least for now.
Alex Snitker, Libertarian Party candidate for U.S. Senate
Alex Snitker is not a traditional politician by any sense of the imagination. After reading one of my columns he called me and asked me to meet him for lunch…at Hooters. I obliged and after enjoying a plate of wings politely told him that in the future he should have political luncheons at a more appropriate restaurant.
Snitker doesn’t have a chance but he’s in it for the right reasons. He’s also well versed on the issues — at least those he’s running on: corruption/ethics; not being a career politician, not being a lawyer; following the U.S. Constitution. Hopefully he’ll run for something more attainable next time like the State Senate where he could have run to unseat Charlie Crist’s top cheerleader Mike Fasano or some other clown representing us in Tallahassee.
Snitker’s most endearing quality is his naiveté. Unfortunately while endearing, it’s also a big liability. I haven’t met a more delusional candidate since Katherine Harris. But Snitker’s delusions are based on inexperience while Harris’ were based on a cranial imbalance.
In short, I liked Alex Snitker and I think we need more “real” people like him to run for public office. Instead we get the ethically-challenged, shameless, self-promoting pigeons who are more interested in their next election than they are the next generation. You know, people like Charlie Crist, Kendrick Meek, and Bill McCollum. But the reality is, most voters don’t give people like Snitker a close look because they don’t have the support or financial backing to run a successful campaign – so we end up with the aforementioned career politicians who duck and dodge and give us far more problems than solutions.
Marco Rubio, Republican candidate for U.S. Senate
Frequent readers of my columns know I was an early supporter of Marco’s and also that my support for him soured when it was disclosed he was not very disciplined with someone else’s credit card. I’m still bothered by that issue and the fact that Rubio has never really taken ownership/responsibility for his poor decisions or actually admitted that he did anything wrong.
A few readers have criticized my decision to withdraw support of Rubio. I’ve been told I “shouldn’t expect perfection” (which I don’t), and the most common comment has been “he’s not as bad as Charlie.” While I agree with the latter comment, I don’t embrace the idea of voting for someone because they are the lesser of two evils. If we as voters demanded better, we might just get better candidates.
That said, I’ve got to hand it to Marco for something. That is, when I requested my $600 in campaign contributions back, I received a check in the mail within three days of doing so. That shows some sense of right and wrong and was a good start toward rebuilding my confidence in the candidate.
Charlie on the other hand…
Charlie Crist, former Republican, now No Party Affiliation candidate for U.S. Senate
I make no bones about it, I can’t stand this guy. He is the epitome of everything that is wrong with politics and the politicians we elect. Why? Because Charlie doesn’t believe in anything but his own electoral advancement. The guy is a clown. He’s a liar. He’s a do nothing. He’s robbing our children and grand children like it’s his job so he can get reelected.
I could go on and on but I won’t. Want to know more about this guy? Just go to the homepage of Irreverent View and type in “Charlie Crist” in the search box. Get educated about him. He’s dangerous to America’s future because he doesn’t want anything but to be elected to something.
And he will. Despite a few polls suggesting a Rubio lead in a hypothetical General Election matchup between Crist, Rubio and Meek, I think Charlie will win. And political scientists twenty years from now will put him in the category of one of the greatest political transformations of all time. In less than a few weeks he took the greatest liability of his political career (the Obama hug) and turned it into an asset. Moderate, independent, and conservative-leaning Democrat voters will see the hug as showing a bipartisan, cooperative spirit. He’s furthermore shored up some of the left with his veto of SB6 (the education bill), and his likely veto of the abortion bill now on his desk. Crist’s shameless call for a special session of the legislature to call for a constitutional amendment to ban offshore oil drilling also plays well with a large segment of brain dead voters Crist will be relying upon for a November victory.
And if Florida gets hit with a hurricane or two this summer, it’s all but the fat lady singing. Charlie plays that populist, “I feel your pain” B.S. that Bill Clinton perfected so well, better than anyone – even better than Clinton. And unlike Clinton, with Charlie you don’t have to worry about him hitting on your wife.
In closing, while I applaud Marco for returning my campaign contribution, Charlie “turn coat” Crist has told his donors seeking a campaign contribution refund to go pound sand. Now that’s character. Betchya’ they’re not liking all that “for the people” talk today. Serves ‘em all right though. This guy has been a chameleon his whole life and those who contributed to his campaign before he made the switch should’ve known it.
Paula Dockery, Republican candidate for governor
Mention her name this time next year and most people will likely say, “Paula who?” Come to think of it, that’s probably what most people are saying today.
Dockery waited far too long to get into the race and as such she never had much of a chance against the McCollum/establishment money machine. Now with Rick Scott in the race she has zero chance.
Sorry Paula, it’s just not your time. But keep your chin up, there’s a need for a woman with an independent streak like you in Florida GOP politics.
Rick Scott, Republican candidate for governor
Rick Scott is Bill McCollum’s biggest nightmare. The millionaire corporate executive spent more money on television ads last month than McCollum raised last year. The polls show McCollum is in trouble and Scott is on the rise.
The biggest ding on Scott is he headed Columbia Healthcare when the company received the largest Medicare fraud fine in U.S. history. McCollum will no doubt remind voters of the $1.7 billion fine. While the Columbia fine was huge (largest such fine in U.S. history), if you take a $1.7 billion fine in the context of it being on a company with approximately $30 billion in annual revenue, $1.7 billion is the cost of doing business. It should also be worth noting that while some company executives were charged by the government with criminal wrongdoing, Rick Scott was not among them.
Scott’s money makes him a player, and so far his ads on Florida TVs are on target focusing on corruption, and an end to politics as usual. It will be hard for McCollum to endure the relentless ads Scott runs because for every McCollum ad you see, you’ll probably see four or five of Scott. Scott will remind voters McCollum is a career politician who has never had a real job in his life, and as such is part of the problem, not part of the solution.
My money is on Scott. Florida government needs an enema, and Rick Scott is the man who can deliver it.
Bill McCollum, Republican candidate for governor
As predictable as the sun, you can count on Bill McCollum…to be a candidate for something. When you’ve never had a real private sector job and spend twenty years in Washington, what else can you do – other than become a lobbyist? Now don’t get me wrong, Bill McCollum is not a bad man. But he is a career politician and it shows. It shows with the lack of leadership he demonstrates, and it shows with his abyss of new ideas in his agenda for Florida’s future. Last year McCollum reportedly told close supporters he was running for governor because “it’s my turn.”
McCollum personifies what is wrong with American politics. He’s the status quo that likes things as they are. Exactly the types who are sending America to hell in a hand basket.
Republican or Democrat, we can do better than the Bill McCollum’s of the world. I’ve predicted for over a year that if McCollum is the GOP nominee, start getting used to saying Governor Sink.
Or maybe not.
Bud Chiles, Democrat candidate for governor (Chiles has not announced but is expected to run)
There is nothing like capitalizing on an old political family name to kick-start a gubernatorial campaign. Heck, it’s what gave us all those sorry Kennedy’s as well as two governor Bush’s and a President George W. Bush to boot. Normally I loathe candidates who rise to office because of what daddy did, but in this case, I applaud the Democrats (assuming they are successful in getting Chiles to run). While watching Alex Sink is about as exciting as watching paint dry, Chiles is no rock star but he adds some interest to an otherwise boring race.
I don’t know Chiles well, but I spent some time with him a few months ago when we were both guests on Florida This Week and he seems like a stand-up guy with the type of sincere and calming influence voters are looking for. As for his politics, one can only assume a centrist/left-leaning agenda though that is based solely on assumption as a result of his pedigree.
Chiles better get things moving though, he’s got a lot of ground to make up in a short period of time.
Interesting fact: U.S. Senator Kay Hagan of North Carolina is Chiles’ cousin.
Alex Sink, Democrat candidate for governor
She’s been through more campaign staffers than Katherine Harris and is about as inspirational as a bar of soap. Alex Sink has struggled for more than a year to gain traction in what should be an easy victory to the governor’s mansion. As a result, she now faces the threat of a Bud Chiles candidacy. Sink’s strengths are she doesn’t come across as too liberal (though she no doubt is more liberal than she projects), resulting in a mainstream appeal. I personally voted for Sink for CFO because I felt she was a better candidate than the career politician, Republican Tom Lee. Sink has potential for a lot of crossover support — in fact, Republican Party of Florida Chairman John Thrasher is among her past supporters. Thrasher gave money to her candidacy before he became state party chairman.
Sink should expect similar bipartisan support but people are itching for her to show some leadership and a vision for what she would do as governor and they’re not getting it from the candidate. Bud Chiles no doubt sees this weakness and may be ready to pounce on Sink. Sink’s reluctance to engage voters and the news media is likely a result of her background – she’s a banker. Hardly a profession known for being bold and taking risks – that is, unless the federal government is going to be there to bail them out.
It’s easy to see why Republican turned Democrat Arlen Specter (PA) lost in the Democrat Primary election last night. Pennsylvania voters (like voters elsewhere) are sick of career politicians. Specter served five yes FIVE terms in the U.S. Senate. Like I keep saying, part of the problem, not part of the solution. It’s a bad year to be an incumbent – of any party.
Chris Ingram is the president and founder of 411 Communications a corporate and political communications firm, and publisher of www.IrreverentView.com. Ingram is a frequent pundit on Fox News and CNN, and has written opinion columns for the Washington Times, UPI, Front Page Florida, and National Review online. E-mail him at: Chris@IrreverentView.com.
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