Opinion

Sarah Rumpf: Why I'm Endorsing Kurt Kelly

By Sarah Rumpf

[Originally posted along with some other local endorsements on my blog at http://www.sunshinestatesarah.com/2010/07/new-endorsements-kurt-kelly-greg.html]

I took my time making a decision on this race.  I live in District 8, and it embarrasses the heck out of me that Alan Grayson is my representative in Congress.  Part of the reason I waited so long to make an endorsement is I wanted to wait and see which candidates really were capable of knocking out Grayson, a multimillionaire and darling of liberal nuts across the internet.

I can say with confidence that I make this endorsement as fully informed as I can possibly be.  I have spoken with every single one of the Republican candidates (one I spoke with on the phone, the rest I have met in person), I’ve reviewed their websites, listened to speeches and debates, looked over their campaign finance reports, and done my own research.

Kurt Kelly has impressed me from the beginning and has always been on my “short list.”  He has a solid conservative record from his time in the Florida House, he’s warm and sincere, but also not afraid to discuss tough issues or directly attack Grayson and the Democrats controlling Washington.  Kurt has put together an amazing grassroots network.  A lot of my Young Republican friends have been long time supporters of Kelly and every HobNob I’ve attended lately always has a noticeable group of Team Kelly people running around in those bright green shirts.  Kelly has has been consistent and solid with his fundraising and won a string of straw polls with respectable margins.

I believe the Orlando Sentinel made a mistake in their endorsement of Dan Webster. Don’t get me wrong, I like Webster, I have a lot of respect for his accomplishments and record in the Legislature, but the Editorial Board’s dismissal of Kelly for Webster seems to rest solely on Webster being more “experienced.”  Hogwash.  OK, Webster has more years in the Legislature than Kelly, but that doesn’t automatically mean that he would be a better choice for Congress than Kurt Kelly.  That’s like saying “Mrs. Smith has been teaching for 20 years, and Mrs. Brown has been teaching for 10 years, so therefore Mrs. Smith is a better teacher than Mrs. Brown.”  Ummm, no, that’s not how it works.

Just because one person has a few more years working at a job, doesn’t necessarily mean that person is “better.”  Neither Webster nor Kelly are political rookies, and Kelly actually has broader experience than Webster, having worked in the private sector as well as spending many years working for conservative causes outside of elected office. I understand the current popularity of opposing “career politicians,” but experience in government should be viewed as an asset.  And Kurt Kelly is far from a career politician, having first been elected to the House in 2008.

Regarding the other candidates in District 8, Bruce O’Donoghue and Todd Long have both shown strong conservative credentials and a willingness to go after Alan Grayson’s jugular, and they’ve earned my respect for that.  Patricia Sullivan strikes me as very sincere and her grassroots volunteers are an impressive hardworking bunch, but her inability to make significant fundraising progress makes me hesitate.  District 8 is large and an expensive media market; taking on Alan Grayson will require a strong candidate and a pile of money.  It might not be fair, but it’s reality.  I hope Sullivan considers running for office again after this – she’d be great in the Florida Legislature – because I think she has a lot to offer, and she’s young enough to run for Congress again later.

Webster, O’Donoghue, Long, and Sullivan are all good conservatives but when I look at the big picture, Kurt Kelly is simply the best candidate across the board, and the best chance for the Republicans to beat Alan Grayson.

On August 24th, I will be voting for Kurt Kelly.  If you live in District 8, I encourage you to do the same.  Thank you.

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