Opinion

This Week's Rambling Thoughts

And they’re off…!

With a little more than 5 wks to go, campaign season is hitting high gear with several local candidates now airing prime time television ads.  Craig Miller (D24) was the first in the area to do so, followed by Dan Webster (D8) and Karen Diebel (D24).  This being the most expensive means of getting your message out, it’s easy to see who’s in good shape financially.

Or, you can just look at the 2nd qtr. campaign disclosure reports that are just being released.  That is, if you can decipher them.  Just like everything else in today’s world, things are rarely what they appear to be.  There seems to be some confusion over Diebel’s figures that center around a $200K loan that she was to make to herself.  The campaign announced this loan, although it does not appear on her disclosure report, which could have implications with her meeting the NRCC ‘Young Gun’ requirements.  Perhaps, she ‘deemed’ the loan to have occurred?

*Anthony Bonna, of the Diebel campaign, informs me that the Chairman of the NRCC, Pete Sessions, is quoted in the printed version of the Orlando Sentinel as saying Karen did satisfy the requirements to become a “contender” and  there is no issue.

There was a troubling report out this week from WDBO that Bruce O’Donoghue (D8) owes the IRS more than $300,000 after he failed to pay his payroll taxes for last year.  “It’s a sad set of circumstances, and of course timing couldn’t have been worse,” O’Donoghue says.  He told WDBO he’s the victim of a former employee that stole from him.  Of course, tax problems are not insurmountable, just ask Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner.

The importance of television ads and name recognition cannot be overlooked.  Having recently participated in precinct walks, it was astonishing to see so many people in the community who are completely disconnected from the political process.  For those of us who are intimately involved, we take it for granted that folks are in tune.  Understanding just how important this election cycle is, you’d think that more people would be paying attention.  For those who aren’t, the deciding factor may very well be the television ad that catches their attention, or the name that’s stuck in their memory.

Most of the folks I spoke with on these walks knew of Alan Grayson (D8), although, no surprise here, very few had a favorable impression of him.  Beyond Grayson, the names that were most recognizable to people, if any, were the established politicians in the area and Todd Long (D8), who ran in the 08 Republican primary.  All of which begs to ask, can you win an election without name recognition and strong finances to get your message out?  Conventional wisdom say’s you can’t, however, if ever there were a time to accomplish such a feat, now is that time.  Which bodes well for Patricia Sullivan (D8), who is at a serious financial disadvantage.

The two targets of all this commotion, Grayson and Suzanne Kosmas (D24), are cruising right along with campaign contributions. The two Democrat incumbents are getting a sizeable portion of their money from outside their districts, with much of that coming from PAC’s and labor unions.  You can expect both, particularly Grayson, to start peppering the airwaves soon with misleading ads. 

Speaking of misleading ads, believe it or not, in recent radio ads, Grayson is passing himself off as a moderate with genuine concern for bipartisanship!  If the folks in district 8 buy that, well, then we deserve two more years of this buffoon.

One thing is certain, with all the unfortunate campaign rhetoric aside, we owe all the candidates a debt of gratitude.  They’re all working very hard and most are spending large portions of their own wealth in an effort to serve our country.  The families and spouses of these candidates are also making untold sacrifices and deserve our appreciation, as well.  For the victor, it will be worth it, for the rest, it will be an experience not soon forgotten.

For those who are still undecided in district 8, the West Orlando Tea Party is holding a Candidate Town Hall on August 12th.  The event is being sponsored by WFLA and Americans For Prosperity and is taking place at the Foundation Academy in West Orange County with Bud Hedinger (540 AM) moderating.  The facility seats 1,200+, with plenty of room to bring your family, friends and neighbors!  Details can be found at www.westorlandoteaparty.org 

As for district 8, if Grayson is to be sent packing, the various camps will need to set aside any differences after the primary and pull together in this pursuit.  It will take such a feat to overcome all the money he will be pouring into his re-election and to neutralize any potential effects the nefarious Florida TEA Party political party may have.  A little bird tells me that there may very well be a welcoming surprise or two yet to come here.

Speaking of surprises, as we get close to August 24, we can anticipate the campaigns to let go with their full arsenal.  Let’s hope all involved keep it above the belt.  Experience says that will not be the case, however, conservatives should remain focused on the bigger picture.  Considering that we live in Florida and the RPOF having already set a pretty low standard, the likelihood of such lofty behavior is not too great, which goes back to the challenge of coming together mentioned in the previous paragraph.  I do know of Republicans who voted for Grayson in ’08, incredibly, simply because of the animosity that came out during the primary race that year.  Let’s hope folks are smarter this year…

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Tom Tillison

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