Askew: 'Blind partisanship is never productive'
Former Gov. Reubin Askew was warmly received Thursday evening at the historic Old Capitol, where he appeared with author/journalist Martin Dyckman, whose latest book chronicles Askew's tenure as governor (1971-1979) during what Dyckman calls "the Golden Age of Florida politics."
More than 100 people waited in line for Askew and Dyckman to autograph copies of the book. Askew singled out several in the audience: former Republican state Sen. Curt Kiser of Dunedin, former House clerk John Phelps and Jon Moyle, the West Palm Beach lawyer who the former governor said was nearly his running mate in 1970 (Askew chose Tom Adams instead).
Askew, 83, a Democrat, is credited with leading Florida into the modern age. He championed the corporate income tax that Gov. Rick Scott now wants to repeal, and he reformed the system of judicial selection and appointed the first African-American to serve on the Supreme Court of a Southern state.
In remarks following Dyckman's talk, Askew echoed the author's view that Tallahassee has changed for the worse, in part because it is a much more partisan place than it was in the 1970s. Both men said that during the so-called golden age, Democrats and Republicans often differed sharply over philosophy, but they socialized together and sought common ground as much as possible.
"People fuss about partisanship," Askew said. "Blind partisanship is never productive, but partisanship is extremely important. There was a time when politicians would look to the party for a little technical help. That's the past. Today, everyone running for office has their own media advisor."