It seems as though as it has been a generation since American voters have become as stoked as they are today about changing political directions.
Baby boomers on up couldn’t wait in 1976 to send President Jimmy Carter back to Plains, Ga., to grow peanuts and live on the farm with the clan — Lillian, Rosalynn, Jack, Chip, Jeff, Amy and Uncle Billy. By then, from a political standpoint, they were our real version of the Clampetts.
Today, the symbols of voter unrest are, foremost, the burgeoning and destructive American national debt ($13.6 trillion) and our annual federal deficit ($1.4 trillion). In human terms, of course, the symbols of unrest are Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid — the triumvirate of rising American socialism.
With that as our backdrop, woe unto thee who carries the “D” behind his or her name in this election.
Don’t get us wrong. We have good friends who are “Ds.” But here’s what we should remember about Democratic Party candidates: In the end, at the state and national levels, the candidate you elect will side with his party. And that means if your favored candidate is a Democrat, he or she will side with the party agenda — the very agenda Americans can’t wait to hurl.
Put another way, it’s impossible to make a convincing case to elect any Democrat in this election cycle.
Let’s go down the list.
The three leading candidates are Marco Rubio, Republican; Kendrick Meek, Democrat; and Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, whatever he is.
What is there to say?
Meek is an Obama-ite; Obama recorded a radio ad for him.
Then there’s Gov. “I can be my own man, my party left me” Crist.
Say this about Crist: He always has been an incredibly nice, likable guy in public venues. And we believe his love for his state and its people is sincere.
But then there’s Charlie Crist, the politician. From the time he was elected to the state Senate in 1992 until now, Crist’s legislative actions have always come across as doing what is most expedient for his career. And if truth were ever told, inside-politics Tallahasseeans will tell you Crist has said the ultimate goal is being president. It’s not really about “the people.”
That aside, the bigger issue for voters — Democrats, Republicans and “NPAs” (no party affiliation) alike — is what Crist would do if indeed he were elected? Jump to whatever side is most popular? Sorry, we like to know what we’re buying.
That leaves Rubio. We signed on as Rubio supporters back when he was speaker of the Florida House. He clearly “gets it” and articulates it well: Congress cannot continue spending the way it does; this is guaranteeing our future generations a lower standard of living. There is no other outcome.
The one thing about Rubio we would wish, if he is to be elected: Stay humble.
We recommend Rubio.
U.S. House, District 13
Incumbent Congressman Vern Buchanan is running for his third term, this time against James T. Golden, a former Bradenton City Council member, an attorney and mostly a church pastor.
This shouldn’t be — and most likely won’t be — a contest. Golden is your standard Democrat. He publicizes that he was endorsed by MoveOn.org, the Democratic Party’s nasty, liberal hit squad. What more do you need to know?
Fact is Buchanan deserves re-election. Not because he’s a Republican, but because he has earned it. Buchanan has served his district well.
With another victory — and perhaps the Republicans winning the House — don’t be surprised to see Buchanan at the forefront in Washington, leading the charge on the agenda item that topped his list from the day he was first elected: a balanced budget amendment.
It was refreshing to see Buchanan fired up at a recent Longboat Key Republican Club luncheon. Like Rubio, he “gets it.” He says the spending must stop.
We recommend Buchanan.
We stated our position on this race three months ago — on July 15, prior to the state primary elections. And we haven’t wavered. Back then we wrote:
“If you cut through all of the Bill McCollum and Alex Sink character-assassination attack ads; if you discard the standard operating procedure of the daily newspapers and their editorialists — which is to discredit anyone who has been a success in business; and if you judge Florida’s gubernatorial candidates on their professional accomplishments, the choice for governor is overwhelmingly clear. Pick the candidate who has proven his competence far above the other candidates.
“That would be Rick Scott.”
He is the candidate for the time. Sink is not on Scott’s level intellectually, in ability nor in competence.
We recommend Scott.
Attorney General — Pam Bondi
Chief Financial Officer — Jeff Atwater
Commissioner of Agriculture — Adam Putnam
Retain — Charles T. Canady, Ricky L. Polston
Do not retain — Jorge Labarga, James E.C. Perry
COURT OF APPEAL
Retain — Marva Crenshaw, Patricia Kelly, Nelly N. Khousam, Robert Morris, Stevan Northcutt, Craig Villanti, Douglas Wallace
State House District 67
Vying to replace the term-limited Rep. Ron Reagan in East Manatee County, Republican Greg Steube and Democrat Z.J. Hafeez are impressive young men. Here’s the difference: Hafeez believes in a lot of government activism and intervention; Steube believes in less.
Steube is what we would call a Republican moderate (too moderate for our tastes). He talks about reducing government regulation and creating an environment that encourages small-business growth. But he also believes in using government intervention to manage growth and development and give tax incentives (i.e. subsidize special groups) for small businesses and alternative energy. To his credit, he says he opposes new taxes.
Hafeez scares us. While he has stated “citizens must be allowed to keep more of their own money” and that “small businesses should have their tax burden lowered so they can employ more people and become local drivers of an economic recovery,” he’s overflowing with interventionist ideas: i.e., tax credits “to ensure that property taxes do not exceed a person’s ability to pay”; more spending to expand the state’s role in providing health insurance for the uninsured and children. He wants Citizens Property Insurance to grow even larger. He wants to hire more teachers, give them higher pay. And he wants to increase “sin” taxes, raising the tax on cigarettes by $1.
In Hafeez’s ideal world, there would be no rest for an expanding government.
We recommend Steube.
Manatee County Commission
First-time candidate, young Democrat Sundae L. Knight, a civil engineer and Air Force veteran, brings fresh enthusiasm to Manatee’s political scene. But she’s way too green — “My platform is based on promoting green industry jobs …”
Incumbent Carol Whitmore, on the other hand, epitomizes what a county commissioner should be: a smart, tireless advocate for taxpayers. We love her pledge: “to make government a lean mean machine … I have no problem doing what we have to do to run government like a business and not another governmental mess.” Refreshingly, Whitmore’s actions back her words.
We recommend Whitmore.
Manatee County School Board District 3 (nonpartisan)
Incumbent Jane Pfeilsticker has a good grasp of issues facing the Manatee County School District. But we’ve never been partial to educators sitting on school boards. Pfeilsticker is a molecular biologist at State College of Florida.
Her opponent, Julie Aranibar, would bring to the board characteristics this board could use — indefatigable energy, insatiable desire to make whatever she touches better, community involvement and, what we like best, paycheck-writing business experience. As East Manatee residents know, give Aranibar an assignment, she will get the job done.
We recommend Aranibar.
Manatee School Tax
Voters are being asked whether to give the school board the authority by annual super majority vote to levy a 0.25-mill tax for the next two school years for critical operating needs.
Taxes never go away. We recommend a “no” vote.
Lakewood Ranch CDDs
CDD 4 Seat 1 —Michael Spring
CDD 4 Seat 2 — Keith Davey
CDD 4 Seat 3 — Joseph F. Sidiski
CDD 5 Seat 5 — Steven Peters
GreyHawk Landing Seat 1 — C.O. “Ollie” Kyte
GreyHawk Landing Seat 3 — Julie Mekhail; Marcia Weaver — a toss-up; both qualified
GreyHawk Landing Seat 5 — Scott Ziegler
University Place CDD Seat 1 — Diana Armbrust
Amendment 1 — Repeal of public campaign financing requirement — Yes
Amendment 2 — Homestead ad valorem tax credit for deployed military personnel — Yes
Amendment 4 — Referenda required for adoption and amendment of local government comprehensive land-use plans — No
Amendment 5 — Standards for Legislature to follow in legislative redistricting — No
Amendment 6 — Standards for Legislature to follow in congressional redistricting — No
Amendment 8 — Revision of the class size requirements for public schools — Yes
Nonbinding referendum — A nonbinding vote calling for an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to balance the federal budget — Yes