My recommendations are a result of extensive research as well as personal questioning of those in the know, and I am providing them only in an attempt to help you if you want it. I do not intend to offend anyone or to start an argument, but any and all comment and/or feedback will be appreciated.
Before you go on to my ballot recommendations, I want to say firstly that I really have a problem with the fact that voters can submit their ballots so far ahead of Election Day that the possibilities of new information, fresh scandals and possibly another useful perspective are ignored. While the ballots are already printed, it’s possible that either Kendrick Meek or Charlie Crist could drop out (“possible” does not translate to “likely”). Joe Garcia is disputing David Rivera’s legal standing to be on the ballot for District 25 (in Dade). Things happen, and things can happen close to Election Day, and I just think that people should wait a while longer to ensure that they have a complete set of information and recommendations about the ballot.
While I’d like to have my list available before Early Voting got started last week, I’ve continued talking to people who are more in the know about local and state politics than I am, and there have been debates and panel discussions to watch and to listen to on TV and radio all through last week. I think voting during the week prior to Election Day makes sense, just not so excessively far in advance. Showing up to vote on November 2nd and finding out that for any reason you are denied the ability to vote would forfeit the time needed to contact to the Supervisor of Elections office and try to find out what’s going on. Rather than waiting until it may be too late, it’s safer to vote ahead of Election Day- but so far ahead is just ridiculous.
People have mailed in their absentee ballots weeks ago. The expense of running the polls for two weeks in addition to Election Day seems wasteful for a mid-term, especially for the primaries. Voting the minute you receive an absentee ballot in the mail is just jumping the gun. I was at Early Voting locations almost daily during the primary elections, however, and it was dead. It seems like a nice idea to many, I’m sure, to open voting locations more than two weeks ahead of Election Day, but I think that expecting voters to wait out the discussions in the media and the debates between candidates just seems like the more appropriate thing to do.
That said, I hope that my recommendations will be helpful to some, but please- if you disagree or hold another opinion having to do with the Democratic Party candidates and/or progressive politics, please comment or contact me. I am always willing to learn and to hear other perspectives.
Here’s my list, including candidates beyond my area and likely yours, but you can pass along some recommendations to others who will be voting in other districts.
United States Senator: Kendrick B. Meek
Marco Rubio has run an excellent campaign, and no one should deny it. Both Rubio and his joined-at-the-hip buddy David Rivera (running against Joe Garcia in a congressional race in District 25, which runs from southern Dade to the west coast of Florida) are two of the sleaziest and untrustworthy political hacks that have ever been seen selling swamp land in Florida- but Rubio has stuck to a clear and concise message, as Republicans have been known to do, while both Kendrick Meek and Charlie Crist certainly have not. All polling points to Rubio getting a minority of the total vote- and winning.
Kendrick Meek’s presence and direct involvement in his congressional district is questionable, and my personal dealings with his staff, both in Miami and in Washington, have been entirely disappointing. I have questioned Congressman Meek on issues face-to-face, and I had never been provided an answer. When I had asked the Congressman on his votes in regards to funding the notorious “School of the Americas,” his answer was, “What’s the ‘School of the Americas?” Several local congressional offices and the office of Senator Bill Nelson had supplied me with pocket-sized copies of the US Constitution to distribute at an event scheduled close to national Constitution Day to discuss the constitutional issues of campaign financing. Congressman Meek’s office, however, replied that their policy is not to provide copies of our Constitution to any individual or group that is involved in an event or organization “that could be deemed to be political in nature.” …Ugh. I’ve participated in meetings in his local office in regards to war funding, health care and local issues, and I was consistently discouraged by the disengagement and seeming arrogance of staff members.
Congressman Meek speaks fairly well in public, and he certainly seems like a nice man. He has a positive history of engaging in community and educational issues while serving in Tallahassee, and he’s towed the Democratic Party line in respect to furthering progress on some important issues from Washington. But he’s no prize, and that should be evidenced by his inability over such an extended period of time since announcing his candidacy for the US Senate to truly make a name for himself state-wide with a consistent and pure message in regards to not only progress for our state, but about why he should be the one to run for the Senate rather than remaining in his safe congressional seat. Despite his dire and unfortunate lack of campaign money (I would have sent him a few hundred bucks if I could have) I don’t know what it is he’d like to see accomplished through a tenure in the US Senate. As far as I can tell, Kendrick Meek and Charlie Crist are brothers in their apparent motives for giving up their assured re-elections for their current leadership roles for the state: their own careers.
Anyone who believes that Charlie Crist should get their vote because he stood up to the Republican-led state legislature and vetoed SB-6, I have a news flash for you: you get a FAIL. It has been Governor Crist leading this state as we sank to 50th in the nation for education, including abysmal dropout and graduation rates. We have a repeal to the class-size amendment on the ballot because the legislature hasn’t funded the effort, which the voters had originally passed, and there is no hope of any adequate funding of our schools throughout the state without a strong and highly effective Governor who leads our state politicians towards doing just that. Crist hasn’t been the one, and I don’t know if Alex Sink will be any more effective in that regard, but we may see if she’s elected instead of the state’s unofficial Crypt Keeper , who’s otherwise eager to “get to work” (work that I very much doubt has anything at all to do with the best interests of individual Floridians).
Crist’s flip-flopping has been amusing at best, and his motives have received a lot more questioning than has Meek’s, but he’s been way ahead of Meek in the polls (although not with Democrats). Despite making quite clear how he really stands on some Democratic efforts like “Obamacare” with such outrageous and right-wing rhetoric during last week’s debate, Charlie Crist has a rather unique talent of consistently sounding reasonable and unflappable, and he has always seemed to have a very nice personality. I trust those qualities will serve nicely within his recent marriage, and that he’ll enjoy his wife’s substantial wealth and his reputation as a popular governor of Florida during his undesired political retirement. I will add, however, that one thing that should be said about Charlie Crist and I’ve never heard said by anyone is that he has shown outstanding judgment and consideration in his judicial appointments throughout the state. Crist’s judgment in regards to several prominent Republican cronies, however, such as former party leader Jim Greer, should be stunning to anyone, especially when Crist had continually demonstrated his loyalties until the bottom fell out due to relentless corruption. Let’s all also bear in mind that it is Charlie Crist who decided for the sake of his career ambitions to not seek an easy re-election as Governor and thus put us all in DANGER in the state of Florida because the Governor’s seat was up for grabs for Bill McCollum or Rick Scott or any other nefarious extremist. At least Kendrick Meek’s congressional seat was safe for Democrats and for reasonable candidates.
Voting for Crist has a zero percent chance of putting him in the Senate instead of Rubio. The vote is split, and the only way to beat Rubio would have been for one of the other two to have pulled out weeks ago, before ballots were printed and mailed out. In this right-wing wave environment, it’s terribly unlikely that Meek could have won in a head-to-head against Rubio, yet there is the issue of African-American turnout being encouraged by Meek’s presence on the ballot. It seems overall that the only possibility of beating Rubio would have been for Kendrick Meek to have pulled out, but voting for Crist or waiting for Meek to drop out is not going to prevent the inevitable victory for Marco Rubio. Our electoral system is not truly representative, as the candidate who clearly has a minority of votes can win anyway in our winner-take-all scheme that could be be made far more fair and democratic with IRV (Instant Runoff Voting). As far as voting amongst the candidates to represent the state in the US Senate on this ballot, however, every reasonable Democrat confronted with the choices of candidates we have and the vociferous and unrelenting opposition from the Governor’s former party to the progress Democrats have attempted to further from Washington should most certainly forget Crist’s “independence” and poll numbers and make the ethical choice of Kendrick Meek for U.S. Senate.
Representative in Congress District 17: Frederica S. Wilson
State Senator Wilson has recently described herself as a “liberal progressive,” and I like that a lot. Her opponent seems like a qualified candidate who likely means well, but his reasons for running against her are entirely unclear. Be forewarned, however: I don’t think that they allow the wearing of hats on the House floor in D.C., even if they’re sequined and pretty much the foundation of your political image. Even so, vote for Frederica Wilson for US Congress.
For some of the following candidates, I may not provide a comment if they face only a Republican challenger:
Representative in Congress District 19: Ted Deutch
Representative in Congress District 20: Debbie Wasserman Schultz
While some progressive sorts express frustration with Congresswoman Schultz’s very determined towing of the party line in every circumstance and her New Democrat Coalition (along with Meek) appeasement of the special interests in Washington, no one should ever doubt that Debbie W. Schultz is very, very smart. She does an outstanding job of speaking out to promote legislation on behalf of the President and the Speaker, even if she had to warm up quite a bit in the effort over the last couple of years. Besides her popularity and her smarts, the Congresswoman also enjoys opposing candidates on this ballot who may truly be certifiable nut cases, so be sure to vote for Debbie Wasserman Schultz for US Congress.
Representative in Congress District 22: Ron Klein
I’ll just say here that if ever there was a case for getting out the vote from the less-likely-to-vote contingent, this is it. Everybody and their chihuahua better show up and vote Democrat no matter how liberal or moderate your political leanings are in District 22.
Representative in Congress District 23: Alcee L. Hastings
Governor: Alex Sink
I was impressed with state CFO Alex Sink’s newsletters and emails in regards to her current job, but I fail to see how anybody can be impressed with her gubernatorial campaign. I fully understand that money has been a bit tight and that the bald-headed, crazy-eyed shark of an opponent has a frightening amount of cash to throw around, but the messaging from Sink has been terrible. When lil’ Miss Bank of America says in her TV ad, “Special interests? Nothin’ special ’bout them to me!” – I don’t believe her. Her husband, Bill McBride, has been an admirable political figure in Florida, and his 4-0 math major wife may be entirely qualified, but in this current era of intense mistrust of politicians and big-money corporate influence, Alex Sink has not made her case to ensure that less politically-astute voters as well as African-American voters actually show up and cast their ballot for her or at least against the Crypt Keeper (Sink had to apologize for declining to attend a Miami NAACP event that was attended by the Crypt Keeper’s African-American running mate). Ms. Sink has stated her opposition to allowing the “Bush tax cuts” to expire, and while I understand her need to appeal to Floridians besides flaming liberals like myself, that certainly does not get me fired up.
Michael E. Arth had been running as a Democratic Party gubernatorial candidate in the primary campaign until his complaints about how the Florida Democratic Party had refused any help in violation of their own by-laws in favor of Miss Bank of America finally caused him to switch to No-Party Affiliation. Mr. Arth is a truly progressive candidate with outstanding ideas for true and needed electoral reforms and other beneficial efforts to move our state forward, but he made a personal choice not to concentrate his campaigning in South Florida where the progressive voters are far more concentrated, and voting for his progressive values most certainly makes the Crypt Keeper a grinning, salivating shark ready to snatch your vote effectively in his favor.
Peter Allen is an Independent Party candidate who surely means well and honestly believes in his and his party’s ideas (unlike other candidates whose purported beliefs are entirely un-genuine, like, oh, I don’t know… Rubio). Farid Khavari has made a valiant effort to express his economic theories for bettering the state, although his English has been reported as barely sufficient to get through a complex description of his platform. There are a couple of other interesting candidates on the No-Party ticket as well for the governor’s seat, and they should prove interesting to, perhaps, a producer of the David Letterman Show or the like.
Like too many political races in the United States, we are faced with the unexciting vs. the most horrible scenario one could think of. We cannot risk any vote for a third party candidate. Make sure you and your chihuahua are voting for Alex Sink for Governor.
Attorney General: Dan Gelber
This is another case for voter turnout even amongst those who would tend to vote Democrat but who do not follow the political story lines in America and don’t always turn out. Dan Gelber could effectively administrate any political office to the benefit of any constituents, but Attorney General fits his skills and his outlook very well. While a progressively-minded individual, Gelber is very conservative on the law and takes its practice very seriously. His Republican opponent, however, is a peroxide-blond Palin-ite horror story, so no matter if you follow the Attorney General plot line or not, get out and vote for Dan Gelber for Attorney General.
Chief Financial Officer: Loranne Ausley
The Republican CFO candidate has received several reasonable-sounding endorsements from major news outlets over Democratic candidate Ausley, and the claim is that he’s a capable moderate. I don’t vote for Republicans, however- ever. The two NPA candidates for the job seem like nice guys with solid accounting and financial experience, but they’ve received no editorial attention in the state at all- whatsoever- which is inexcusable. A vote for another candidate, however, is a vote for yet another Republican in Tallahassee, so I’m voting for Loranne Ausley for CFO.
Commissioner of Agriculture: Scott Maddox
There is a Tea Party candidate on the ballot for this position. Yes, despite what Dick Armey has told you about the “tea party” being a disorganized, grassroots effort, it is an official political party in the state of Florida. The NPA candidate, Thad Hamilton, surely means well, but Maddox is the party player in this game and has all of the political attention despite various editorial endorsements of the Republican candidate. Vote Democrat, and vote for Scott Maddox for Ag Commissioner.
State Senator District 25: Kelly Skidmore
Miranda Rosenberg is a very nice young lady running as an NPA candidate and claiming her independence from special interests, but Skidmore has been a respected representative who has a great deal more experience, and her NPA opponent hasn’t made the case as to why Skidmore shouldn’t continue in Tallahassee. Vote Kelly Skidmore for State Senate.
State Senator District 32: Jeremy Ring
State Senator District 35: Gwen Margolis
State Representative District 87: Hava Holzhauer
State Representative District 90: Irving “Irv” Slosberg
State Representative District 91: Barbra Anne Stern
State Representative District 92: Gwyndolen “Gwyn” Clarke-Reed
State Representative District 94: Hazelle P. Rogers
State Representative District 95: James w. “Jim” Waldman
State Representative District 96: Ari Abraham Porth
State Representative District 98: Franklin Sands
State Representative District 100: Evan Jenne
Representative Jenne is one of the best politicians we have in the state, and while his opponent is an NPA candidate, he’s actually unofficially a tea party guy who’s anti-Obama, anti-health care reform- you get the drift. Vote for a true progressive: Evan Jenne for State Representative.
State Representative District 101: Larry Wilcoxson
This is an inexperienced and most certainly an outsider candidate who’s entirely unsophisticated and not a liberal, but he means well, he’s not a Republican, and his “tea party” leanings are likely far less serious than his opponent’s Republican loyalties. You have no choice here, and Wilcoxson certainly isn’t a good one, but oh well, hold yer nose and vote for Larry Wilcoxson for State Representative.
State Representative District 112: Sandra Ruiz
The NPA candidate for District 112 is a “tea party”-style conservative. so please hurry up and vote for Sandra Ruiz for State Representative.
County Commissioner District 4: Chris Chiari
Chris Chiari has twice been an unsuccessful candidate against Republican Ellyn Bogdanoff, but he also for reasons unknown ran against Democrat Evan Jenne, who’s a very progressive politician. Chiari also unsuccessfully ran to head the Greater Ft. Lauderdale Democratic Club. He’s known for being very progressive on environmental issues and has proclaimed strong stances against the moneyed lobbyist-dominated culture of Broward County politics, which he can intricately describe. While the incumbent, Ken Keechle has been competent in the eyes of many in his district and amongst other politicos in Broward, he’s also had a fair number of allegations directed at him in regards to his use and management of campaign money. He’s also very clearly on record as vociferously supporting his “First Amendment right” to raise money from lobbyists and commiserate with the county’s varied special interests. I think that Chiari’s a smart guy, I think he means well, and I think he’d be a very refreshing and needed change, and I therefore strongly recommended that District 4 voters elect Chris Chiari for County Commissioner.
County Commissioner District 6: Suzanne “Sue” Gunzburger
Gunzburger’s opponent has had a history in county politics years ago, and it wasn’t a particularly happy one. He’s running as NPA, but Gunzburger’s solid reputation and her stances on the issues are undeniable, including her determined efforts to preserve open space and protect the environment, so vote for Sue Gunzburger for County Commissioner.
County Commissioner District 8: Barbara Sharief
County Commissioner District 9: Dale V. C. Holness
Justice of the Supreme Court: YES to retain all
Fourth District Court of Appeal: YES to retain all
County Court Judge Group 26: F.J. McLawrence
School Board Member District 4: Jaemi Levine
This is a tough one. Levine’s opponent has a resume with extensive classroom experience, and Levine ran a “Mothers Against Predators” group that appears to be disbanded. Neither appear to be ideal choices, but the other candidate, David “Dave” Thomas is alleged to have posted some nasty comments against Levine supporters on-line under a pseudonym that Bob Norman of the New Times investigated in his Bob Norman sort of way way, and Thomas did appear to be cornered. Norman included some mention of Stephanie Kraft and other criminally-charged individuals associated with Thomas and his campaign. Oh well- who knows? Vote for Levine. Or vote for Thomas. No, vote for Jaemi Levine for School Board.
School Board Member District District 6: Laurie Rich Levinson
The current Board Member for this district has a lot of popularity and respect, but also a lot of controversy and some indications of incompetence. Ms. Levinson is the daughter of Nan Rich, and thus may explain the use of two last names on the ballot, and some may consider the political legacy of her very reputable mother as an unfair advantage, but Ms. Levinson is smart and capable and the Board may benefit from the change by putting her in the seat, so go ahead and vote for Laurie Rich Levinson for School Board.
School Board Member District 7: Nora Rupert
Both candidates are qualified, but what a story behind Rupert’s candidacy! She didn’t like her School Board rep and his reputation for arrogance, so she collected over 1,300 signatures, got on the primary ballot and won! Her opponent is apparently endorsed by the old guard, Ms. Rupert has been regarded as a valiant fighter in the interests of children, and so I suppose that one should vote for Nora Rupert for School Board.
Broward Soil & Water Conservation Seat 2: Cynthia Crawford Thomas
This is an elected volunteer position with two candidates who mean well and stepped up, but only Ms. Thomas has stated clear reasons for her candidacy. I commend both for running, as both have records of community involvement, but if you have to choose, which you do, vote for Cynthia Crawford Thomas for Broward Soil & Water Conservation Seat 2.
No. 1 Constitutional Amendment: Repeal of Public Campaign Financing Requirement: YES
This is yet another unfortunate situation in the annals of attempting to reform campaign financing in America. This effort has led to big-money candidates getting lots of public money while lesser-known candidates have gotten nothing. While it may be argued that the law should be tinkered with, our state constitution, like many others, has gotten unwieldy (Alabama has the longest state constitution- actually the longest in the world. Are you surprised?), and every effort to reform anything shouldn’t necessarily be a constitutional amendment. I advocate repealing this and starting over. Vote YES.
No. 2 Constitutional Amendment: Homestead Ad Valorem Tax Credit for Deployed Military Personnel: NO
This seems lovely- give active military personnel an additional homestead tax exemption- and it’s an effort by two state Republican legislators who likely know how to appeal to the hearts of conservative voters in the state while simultaneously ignoring the practical aspects- as usual. Firstly, why add to the state constitution on a matter of providing an additional benefit to those serving in our military? Secondly, why only benefit homeowners in the military? Why not provide additional tax breaks to every active service member, such as sales tax exemptions or the like? Lastly, this will take out 13 million dollars annually from already depleted county and local budgets for an effort that sounds commendable but will add to the suffering of far more than those who would benefit. Let’s figure out another way to help out active military personnel that goes beyond homeowners and makes fiscal sense, and let’s vote NO on this.
No. 4 Constitutional Amendment: “Hometown Democracy”: YES
This one is really tough. The unintended consequences are numerous and potentially very costly and damaging. I do not believe in trying to resolve problems in our representative democracy due to campaign donations from special business interests by resorting to a potentially far messier option of direct-democracy. Land use designations would have to involve major, comprehensive changes, and they would supposedly only appear on a November general election ballot, and that’s after passing the local and county commissions. That would force developers to wait until the issues are voted upon by the public, and they could pour money into television advertising designed to confuse voters. The big developers and the real estate lobbies have thus far poured hundreds of millions of dollars into advertising against this effort, however, and much of that money had come from the taxpayers in stimulus funds. I have consistently tried to discourage anyone from ever voting on an issue or for/against a candidate based solely on emotion, but I do find myself having a visceral reaction against the NO efforts on this measure. I also object to constantly tacking on more and more amendments to our state constitutions throughout the nation, but our current system of representatives voting on development while so closely engaging with developer lobbyists is clearly troublesome, and those lobbyists certainly don’t want this. In fact, a radio ad against it says, “the politicians” want it when it’s clear that so many politicians don’t. So, I say let’s try it, see what happens and stick it to the man! The 60% minimum voting margin makes it unlikely to pass anyway, but vote YES.
No. 5 Constitutional Amendment & No. 6 Constitutional Amendment: Standards for Legislature to Follow in Redistricting: YES on both.
The arguments against these amendments are truly bizarre and untenable. 60% is a nearly impossible margin to reach, but we had damn well better reach it for Amendments 5 & 6, I will tell you that. Vote YES and vote often.
No. 8 Constitutional Amendment: Revision of Class Size Requirements for Public Schools: YES
Yeah, it’s a shocker. We all want smaller classes, except, perhaps, for the Crypt Keeper and his ilk who would probably be fine with selling some Florida public school children to factories in the Mariana Islands. But we lost. The effort, passed by the voters time enough ago to work out some funding, has never been allocated in the budgets. The Republicans in the state legislature have oh-so-cleverly waited until the last minute to ensure that we all realize that reducing the averages of some class sizes (not all classes are included in the size restrictions) is going to come out of the money we’d otherwise use for, oh, I dunno… educating children. The result of this repeal will apply other averages that really aren’t so drastic, and this really is a tragedy, but our teachers and school administrators need the money now to fund our current classes, and without strong, decisive and heroic leadership in Tallahassee (am I referring to the potential of Miss Bank of America or the Crypt Keeper- can you guess?) that funding will NOT be otherwise forthcoming. I want you to remember that it has been CHARLIE CRIST who has been our governor while the money needed to reduce class sizes as per the voters’ intent has not been allocated, but I also want you to realize that thus far, we have lost. It’s not happening, and if it does then the bottom basically falls out from our schools. Repeal it and Vote YES.
Nonbinding Statewide Advisory Referendum: NO
Another Republican feel-good effort to pretend that we’re gonna pay as we go. It’s never the military industrial complex that suffers, however, if we can’t balance our budgets. It’s little old ladies and sick people who rely on taxpayers for care and some semblance of security who are too often targeted. This is a non-binding referendum that winks while telling us to stop borrowing when we don’t have money to spend, but let’s get real: vote NO.
No. 1 The Charter Review Commission And Management And Efficiency Study Committee Shall Meet Every Ten Years: NO
Meet every six years like you’re supposed to and stop whining. The Committee probably doesn’t meet often enough as it is to provide some oversight. Vote NO.
No. 2 County Code of Ethics Prevails Over Municipal Ordinances Regulating Conduct of Public Officials and Employees: NO
Sounds reasonable, but local municipalities and their residents should decide on what kinds of regulations are in place in regards to the ethical conduct of municipal employees and officials. The County has been no princess at this game for some time now, anyway. Vote NO.
No. 3 Broward County Constitutional Officers Subject To The Broward County Code of Ethics: YES
This is not an issue of local control. The Constitutional Officers are funded by the County, and should be subject to County ethics rules. Vote YES.
No. 4 Establish Charter Office of Inspector General To Investigate County And Municipal Misconduct And Gross Mismanagement: YES
This is the supposedly ethics-killing ordinance that local political columnists were accusing Stacy Ritter of coming up with in order to undermine the efforts of the County Commission to finally reign in the get-rich-quick schemes of the commissioners and their lobbyist pals. This ain’t Disneyworld, however. It’s Broward County, and these rules are reasonable in an attempt to prevent hostile, vindictive and politically-motivated anonymous complaints against officials. The threat of being sued and being subject to legal costs is actually a very high bar to be reached by any sitting official, so complainants with tips, concerns and allegations should have little if anything to fear. Increasing the Inspector General’s purview to a wide array of county officials and employees could make it tougher to concentrate on the county commissioners and the big power-players, but to assume that that’s the intent of Ratter’s amendment is irresponsible. Let’s see how it goes: vote YES.
No. 5 Allow Counties To Show Taxpayers The Portion Of Property Taxes Attributable to Constitutional Officers: YES
A little more information, a little more work for tax assessors, and a little more gibberish on your TRIM notice. Oh well, vote YES.
Try your best to ensure that all of your friends, co-workers and neighbors who tend to vote Democrat get out and vote, but remember, in this election, even those who tend to vote Republican may likely vote for Alex Sink for Governor, so do some talking and some encouraging in addition to your own journey to either the polling place or to the mailbox. Don’t forget- I do look forward to comments, advice, opposing views (other than, of course, Republican and/or right-wing admonishments)- and I look forward to this election season being OVER!!! And so do you.