The Primary, From Where I Stand
By Allen Wilson
The final few days of campaigning are winding to a close and the rhetoric is heating up. In some cases desperate measures are being applied. The past months of campaigning have been quite interesting and informative for me. I have been able to meet all of the candidates is both the CD 8 and CD 24 Republican races as well as a candidates from CD 5, CD 3, CD 6, and Florida House of Representatives District 26. I also consider myself fortunate to have met and spoken with Pam Bondi and Holly Benson as well as Bill McCollum. Running unopposed in his party, Adam Putnam seems to be at ease, and he is the only one.
What should be recognized by everyone is the huge personal sacrifice all of these individuals have made to participate in the electoral process. Some have also put at risk a significant sum from their personal fortune which perhaps explains their level of desperation. Yes, it is true that some may be participating for personal reasons rather than a sense of public responsibility. Some may be returning political favors and some may be running simply to prevent another candidate from winning. Regardless of the reasons they must all be respected for showing up to do a job that many of us would not consider doing.
Congressional District 24 Republican Primary has been a very traditional campaign. All of the candidates claim to represent the tea party values but none seem to appeal to the movement’s grass roots rank and file in great numbers. I fully expect a few activists from each campaign to take issue with this statement, but I would challenge them to provide any evidence to the contrary. Tom Garcia has been actively chasing this mantle, Karen Diebel seems to have won the GOP’s confidence that she can deliver that block, and Sandy Adams has the respect of many for fighting certain fights in Tallahassee that coincide with the movement’s principles. My personal opinion is that none of the CD 24 candidates has enough tea party support to swing it in their favor so that race will likely be a fight to the finish the old fashioned way – money and political favors.
I like Diebel in CD24. Like all of the candidates that stand a serious chance, she has money and political backing. Similarly the three realistic contenders have compelling personal stories and a few skeletons in their closet. What Diebel has that pushes her over the finish line first is a national and international awareness and an understanding of the importance of technology to our district. For Karen this understanding is not an informed opinion but knowledge anchored by experience. I believe Karen will also be a reliable supporter of the conservative leadership in Washington and a person who will be able to add value to the health care argument.
In Congressional District 8 the field is full of potential Grayson beaters. As has been mentioned, five of the seven candidates not only could win the primary, but having won would certainly be well placed to defeat the freshman Democrat. Of those five, there are two that stand out as the moral antithesis of Mr. Grayson, they are Mr. Webster and Mrs. Sullivan. They are also divergent in their approach to campaigning.
While Mrs. Sullivan was early to announce and has been virtually everywhere since, Mr. Webster jumped in at the last minute and has been notably absent from view, failing even to make a speaking appearance in his own television ad. Both of these candidates differentiate themselves from the rest of the field in that they have a significant following of supporters across the district rather than the localized support their opponents enjoy. Mrs. Sullivan seems to have the human resources to counterbalance the larger war chest of her opponent. Mr. Webster has the money but one wonders where and when it will be employed.
Both Sullivan and Webster can expect to receive the full backing of the party and it is likely either would defeat the sitting Democrat. I find the energy and fundamentals of Mrs. Sullivan’s view of the office to be preferable to the incremental status quo improvements offered by Mr. Webster. On specific issues they are very close. However, Mr. Webster’s position that term limits would be a mistake are not in line with my thinking on reformation of the elitist oligarchy mentality nakedly demonstrated by Washington.
It would certainly be a significant addition to the growing tea party coalition which looks to be gaining ground in this election to send both Mrs. Sullivan and Jason Sager, CD 5 candidate, to Washington. Mr. Sager’s clear thinking and common sense, easy to understand proposals for landmark legislation will add accountability and visibility to a murky and shady process. The collaboration of these two and others to form a true tea party caucus can have no other effect than to provide a real component to a politicized attempt by the establishment to co-opt the movement.
Finally, a word about Nathan McDonell, Republican candidate for Florida House of Representatives. This young man truly is one of us. I spent an evening with Nathan a few weeks ago and was immediately impressed with the simple honesty of his positions and his campaign. While many candidates highlight their desire to serve their state and their country, Nathan has already proven his willingness to do so. A decorated combat veteran his service gives him a perspective on what is at stake. As a single parent he understands the responsibility his generation has to future generations. Looking at the future of government in Florida and the nation I am encouraged to find people like Mr. McDonell.
We are facing an uncertain future in Florida and in our nation. I am hopeful that outward facing candidates committed to communicating with the people will be successful in the upcoming primary and general elections. Certainly there are other opinions and some will no doubt oppose what I have opined. What few can disagree with though is the simple fact that a few vitriolic comments will do little more than reinforce how much these changes are needed.
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