Poker-playing puppeteer puts up unproven pawn for Hillsborough County Commission
By Chris Ingram
Irreverent View readers and those who follow Hillsborough County politics know County Commissioner Mark Sharpe has a Republican Primary opponent in Josh Burgin.
Burgin surprised Sharpe with his last-minute qualification for the office, but Burgin is no stranger to politics – he ran unsuccessfully for the State House of Representatives in 2004 at the ripe old age of 28.
Now with all the experience of 34 yrs., Josh “bacon burger” Burgin is running again. While his resume is a little longer than it was six years ago it still has got a lot more fat than meat. Just like a bacon cheese burger.
A political mailer Burgin’s fledgling campaign recently sent out boasts about how he worked in his daddy’s produce stand in his early twenties – now don’t get me wrong, I love a fat Plant City strawberry as much as anyone – I just don’t think peddling produce qualifies one to help oversee the county’s $3.5 billion budget.
In addition to his duties overseeing strawberries and juicy watermelons, Burgin has worked for former County Commissioner Brian Blair (an experience which is curiously absent from the “Bio” page on his website), the International Republican Institute, and Holtec – a company owned by Sam Rashid (more on that later).
In all, Burgin’s resume shows he has had a total of eleven jobs or employment experiences in twelve years. That averages out to a year and a month each. Hardly the type of employment history that shows commitment and stability, though he’s certainly covered quite a spectrum of job types in those years.
Of course Burgin’s resume has a few other notable items – though they aren’t all very clear. But that’s why I am here to help.
First, let’s look at his education: Burgin never graduated from high school. He was home schooled although he did manage to eventually get his G.E.D. And his bio refers to “studying” at USF. He apparently attended classes just one quarter and he never came close to graduating. He might as well have read an encyclopedia on the campus of Harvard and claimed to have “studied” there as well. While you’re at it, do the same at Duke, Princeton, and MIT. As I noted in my column last week, when I called Burgin’s campaign office his wife answered the phone and she didn’t even know if he’d graduated from college or if he had, where he attended. Education is apparently not an important discussion item at the Burgin dinner table…
Burgin’s community involvement is equally thin as his employment and education. According to his campaign mailing he is or has been a member or volunteer to four local Republican clubs, his local church, and is a former board member of the Plant City Pregnancy Care center.
Whew! We can all relax now. He’s clearly dedicated to the community and qualified to help run Hillsborough County.
Seriously folks, this guy’s community involvement is an inch long and a half-inch deep. I know high school kids who have done more public service work. Where’s the Kiwanis Club? The children’s charity? The volunteer time at a public school?
Now maybe some people will think assisting Brian Blair and Sam Rashid makes for quite the impressive resume, but personally I think Mark Sharpe’s service as an officer in the U.S. Navy, as a school teacher, and private business as practice manager to a cardiology group and other life experiences make him far more qualified to serve. Sharpe is pro-life, pro-business, and one of the most impressive thinkers I’ve ever met in politics. I don’t agree with him on everything, but he is one of a very few incumbent politicians I will be voting for this year.
Sharpe’s record: never voted for a tax increase; cut hundreds of millions in county spending; voted against the water-tax hike; lowered property taxes by over seventeen percent, and supported the first in the nation cap on government spending. That’s a record fiscal conservatives can be proud of standing with Mark Sharpe.
So what has Burgin done? I’ll put aside his razor-thin resume for a moment and suggest to you that the more important question for Hillsborough County voters is, where has Burgin gotten the money to pay for his political mailings? It’s no secret that he is close to Samad “Sam” Rashid – who incidentally is a big poker player who likes to fly around the country entering in “Texas Hold’em” tournaments. Now I don’t know about you, but don’t you think it’s funny that a guy like Josh who attends the Plant City Baptist Church is the puppet of a guy who plays semi-professional poker? Just a subtle insincerity there don’t you think? (Click here to see Rashid’s poker-playing profile)
These political mailings aren’t cheap, and Burgin is running countywide. They’ve been full-color and very impressively designed. Save of course the violation of Florida Election Law section 103.081 which Burgin’s “bio” piece is clearly in violation of.
We need good people to run for elective office, but said “good people” need to have a bit more breadth of experience than burger boy currently has. It’s unfortunate that Burgin has allowed himself to become the pawn of Sam Rashid. Rashid’s track record isn’t exactly stellar: he was a HUGE Buddy Johnson supporter and defender of the disgraced former county elections supervisor. Like Josh, Buddy was another nice guy, but one who was grossly incompetent to serve in elective office. But if you’re the poker-playing puppeteer of Plant City and Brandon, brains aren’t exactly a prerequisite for a candidate you’re going to support — so long as said candidate is going to be a good lapdog.
Apparently Sam thinks Josh has what it takes to be his “yes” man or will at least as ask him, “Would you like fries with your ‘bacon burger’ Sam?”
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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