Opinion

Danger ahead for Florida residents

Having just returned from meetings in Tallahassee with statewide business leaders, I have a warning for fellow Floridians: There is danger in our state’s future.

If you’re at all familiar with statewide politics, you know it is common knowledge that the voting patterns of southeastern Florida are marbled with crazy behavior.

Borrowing a word from our Latin neighbors, the voters of Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties have given life to too many “loco” politicians.

Companies from California, New York and Illinois want to invest big money in Florida, but they are hearing that the political climate here is changing, and they are worried. Their worry is that if the political winds are shifting in the wake of re-districting, business may be entering a political winter.

The demographics are changing in Florida, and the business community may be in for an uphill climb. According to registration statistics, 20 percent of voters are in north Florida, 20 percent are in central Florida, 31 percent are in the southwest area of the state, and 29 percent live in Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties.

vote1105New residents and retirees are flocking to Florida’s southeast coast, and the voter registration numbers are climbing there. That’s not good for business, because incoming voters in the three southeastern counties are traditionally liberal, coming from “blue states” such as New York, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Connecticut. White-collar retirees from the Northeast have historically voted for liberals and Democrats, and blue-collar retirees typically belong to unions and loathe business, so they vote Democrat, too.

According to voting records analyzed by Associated Industries of Florida and the Florida Chamber of Commerce, the votes of legislators from southeast Florida reveal them to be the worst anti-business politicians in the state. And that pattern did not change in the 2013 session. The seven Florida House members with the lowest voting scores on business issues came from Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties. It wasn’t much better in the Senate.

In the past, the voters in southeast Florida sent a lot of truly unqualified or misguided legislators to Tallahassee. Those abysmal voter selections were nullified and negated by more level-headed voters from the rest of Florida. More rational voters from other parts of the state elected legislators that offset the legislators elected from liberal counties. But now we see signs that the number of voters in liberal counties are increasing, and that the rest of Florida may not be able to counteract the heavier liberal vote. Why? Overall, the voter registration numbers are getting worse for pro-business candidates. The business community and conservative groups may have become too fat and complacent, because old political models do not work as well anymore.

Even the Republican Party of Florida seems to be off-message on nearly every issue in the social/political arena. Its platform points are not resonating with a majority of voters. If business is not careful, Florida could resort to “California-izing” its politics, and business interests would be on the losing end.

If officials like Gov. Rick Scott lose in the next election, the threat will become a full-blown danger and Florida will be on the downhill slide.

Florida should welcome new “blue state” residents, but not if they bring the same destructive voting habits that caused the economic and social problems in the states they left behind. Liberals move to free-enterprise states for their good economies and way of life, but many try to bring their failed politics with them to Florida. They can’t admit why they moved in the first place.

In other words, it harms Florida when people move here and vote for politicians who want Big Government or socialism to control Florida’s destiny. This state became great, a fiscally-prudent beacon for beleaguered taxpayers everywhere, by being relatively successful at keeping government intrusion out of the lives of its citizens.

For new folks migrating here, welcome, but don’t kill the golden goose.

John R. Smith

John R. Smith is chairman of BIZPAC, the Business Political Action Committee of Palm Beach County, and owner of a financial services company. He is a frequent columnist for BizPac Review.
John R. Smith

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