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  • | 4:00 a.m. October 13, 2010
  • Longboat Key
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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 “D’s.” 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. Certainly, that is the case when you look at this year’s ballot for federal and state offices. Let’s go down the list.

U.S. Senate
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, 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.”

If you have doubts about Scott and his role in Columbia-HCA’s Medicare practices and fines, be sure to read next week’s edition of The Longboat Observer. You’ll see: He is the candidate for the time. Sink is not on Scott’s level intellectually, in ability nor in competence. We recommend Scott.

Many Floridians don’t know it, but Florida’s governor-Cabinet form of government is akin to a weak-mayor government in municipalities. Much of the power in the running of state government is shared equally by four Cabinet members — the governor, attorney general, chief financial officer and commissioner of agriculture.

Read through the Cabinet’s areas of responsibilities at the bottom of the page. Knowing how much Cabinet members can influence the public policies and regulations in the state, you can see it’s important the right people are elected to the Cabinet.

It’s not enough to elect an agriculture commissioner on the basis of what he knows about farming or an attorney general on the basis of his or her views of criminal prosecution. Floridians also should know the candidate’s political philosophy. That philosophy could very well influence the direction and policies of the state — particularly on land use, state investments, law enforcement and the management of water and electricity.

Attorney General
Republican Pam Bondi unequivocally wins our support in this race, not just because she is a quasi-Longboat Key native daughter (her Tampa-based parents have owned their condo on the Key for almost 30 years, and she spent a lot of her childhood vacationing here), but Ms. Bondi also shares our core values on limited government.

Her main opponent, on the other hand, Sen. Dan Gelber from South Florida, falls hard on the liberal side of the political spectrum. In the Florida Chamber of Commerce’s most recent report card on legislators’ votes, Gelber flunked — a 44% pro-business/pro-economy score. At the chamber, that’s an “F.” We recommend Bondi.

Chief Financial Officer
This race features two former state legislators with demonstrated integrity — Republican Jeff Atwater, the outgoing Senate president, and Loranne Ausley, a Tallahassee-based state representative who focused her eights years in the house on children’s issues.

Atwater by far has the credentials to serve as CFO. Professionally, he’s a banker. And as Senate president and leadership, he was part of the inner circle of shaping and managing Florida’s budget during the legislative sessions, as well as being privvy to such complicated issues as Florida’s property insurance messes — a key area of responsibility for the CFO. Atwater is suited for this job.

We recommend Atwater.

Commissioner of Agriculture
Readers of this page know the world would be upside down if The Longboat Observer backed for state office the former chairman of the Florida Democrtic Party, Scott Maddox.

No, Republican Adam Putnam of Bartow is another clear choice on the basis of credentials. A true-blooded farm boy from Bartow, Putnam is giving up his congressional seat to shift back to a familiar arena, his home state.

He knows the agriculture issues as former chairman of the Florida House Committee on Agriculture, a member of the U.S. House agriculture panel and a leader on farm policy and food safety.

But here’s a more important point of comfort: In four recent sessions of Congress, anti-tax Grover Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform gave Putnam ratings of 95%, 96%, 100% and 100% in standing against higher taxation for Americans. We recommend Putnam.

What the Cabinet Does
• State Board of Executive Clemency
• Agency for Enterprise Information Technology
• State Board of Administration
• Division of Bond Finance
• Department of Veterans’ Affairs
• Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles
• Department of Law Enforcement
• Department of Revenue
• Florida Land and Water Adjudicatory Commission
• Electrical Power Plant and Transmission Line Siting Board
• The Board of Trustees Internal Improvement Trust Fund
• Financial Services Commission

As the Administration Commmission, the Cabinet rules on such matters as:
• Considering proceedings relating to comprehensive plans or plan amendments and land development regulations
• Revision and implementation of the state comprehensive plan
• Establishing guidelines and standards for developments of regional impact
• Designating areas of critical state concern
• Considering state agency funding issues and plans
• Resolving disputes relating to: budgets of county sheriffs and property appraisers; distribution of local-option gas taxes; and military base reuse plans
• Adopting rules to: grant or deny petitions for variances and waivers to the uniform rules; address certain state agency personnel matters
• Establishing surety bonds for geophysical exploration, drilling and production

Next week: recommendations on the local legislative, county, school board and judicial races.






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