Sunday, June 24, 2018
Politics

Low voter turnout enables a tiny group to topple a giant

Scary stuff, they said. At the very least, a political wakeup call.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor's loss to a relative unknown in a Republican primary in Virginia on Tuesday supposedly unnerved every office holder in the land.

That is, I guess, how it should be.

But the dismay should not end there.

You should be scared, too.

For what happened in Virginia was not a policy mandate of any sort. It was not the vindication of a movement or a colossal shift in American values.

More than anything, it was a lesson in the power of the politically active. A cautionary tale of how the future can be altered by a relatively small group of committed voters.

This is not meant to disparage professor and tea party candidate David Brat, but he beat Cantor by getting roughly 36,000 of 65,000 votes cast on Tuesday. That's 36,000 people in a district with nearly 500,000 registered voters.

To further put that in perspective, more than 220,000 Virginians voted for Cantor in that same district in a general election about 19 months ago.

The lesson?

A relatively popular, and undoubtedly powerful, politician was just toppled by a tiny group of motivated voters because the majority of adults in that district were too busy, lazy or disinterested to grab a ballot.

You might want to think about that as political yard signs start popping up in your neighborhood in the coming weeks.

For elections are not only determined by the trustworthiness, policies and resumes of candidates, but also by their ability to get you to the polls.

In other words, do you trust your bank manager to choose our next governor? Do you trust your pool guy on the medical marijuana amendment? Do you trust your newspaper columnist on any decision of importance?

Turnout for the special congressional election in Pinellas County in March was less than 40 percent of registered voters. And that was a big step up from Pinellas municipal elections in November that got about 31 percent of eligible voters out of their seats.

This has nothing to do with the merits of Brat vs. Cantor or David Jolly vs. Alex Sink or Rick Kriseman vs. Bill Foster. It has everything to do with electing the candidate who best represents an area, as opposed to a candidate best able to rally the troops.

I'm just cynical enough to believe Las Vegas billionaire Sheldon Adelson's sudden interest in the Amendment 2/medical marijuana campaign in Florida has more to do with energizing the conservative base than worrying about cannabis oils. And I'm sure plenty of people would say the same of lawyer John Morgan and his hefty bankrolling of the pro-marijuana campaign.

I bring all of this up merely to remind you that the direction of this state will be decided sooner than you realize. The deadline to register for the Democratic primary for the governor's race is 46 days away. To be eligible to vote in the general election, you have less than four months to register. Early voting begins in mid October.

You may like Rick Scott over Charlie Crist. You may like Lucas Overby over Jolly. You may like a potted plant over Pam Bondi. That is your right. It is your opinion and your choice.

But it is also your responsibility to make sure your voice is heard.

Comments
A jogger accidentally crossed into the US from Canada and was detained for two weeks

A jogger accidentally crossed into the US from Canada and was detained for two weeks

The coast of White Rock, British Columbia, in western Canada looks to be an ideal place for a run, with its sweeping views of the Semiahmoo Bay to the west and scores of waterfront homes and seafood restaurants to the east. That’s what 19-year-old Ce...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Why a small-town restaurant owner asked Sarah Huckabee Sanders to leave - and would do it again

Why a small-town restaurant owner asked Sarah Huckabee Sanders to leave - and would do it again

LEXINGTON, Va. - Stephanie Wilkinson was at home Friday evening - nearly 200 miles from the White House - when the choice presented itself.Her phone rang about 8 p.m. It was the chef at the Red Hen, the tiny farm-to-table restaurant that she co-owned...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Six candidates waltz into their seats as qualifying ends. The rest still have a fight

Six candidates waltz into their seats as qualifying ends. The rest still have a fight

Six local candidates across Tampa Bay — all county commissioners and city council members — effectively won their elections Friday by default: No one qualified to run against them.The rest still have a fight.Some will square off in an Aug. 28 primary...
Published: 06/22/18
Former Tampa police corporal qualifies as Democrat to run for Hillsborough sheriff

Former Tampa police corporal qualifies as Democrat to run for Hillsborough sheriff

TAMPA — A Democrat has officially joined the race for Hillsborough County sheriff.Gary Pruitt, a 50-year-old former Tampa police corporal who now works as director of security at a local mall, qualified Friday to challenge Republican Sheriff Chad Chr...
Published: 06/22/18
Carlton: Could anything be more partisan than going nonpartisan?

Carlton: Could anything be more partisan than going nonpartisan?

So Hillsborough County commissioners — most of them, anyway — want voters to consider dropping political parties from certain elections, making those races nonpartisan instead.This would mean when you go to vote in those elections, you won’t know if ...
Published: 06/22/18
Hotel renovator approved by council to restore New Port Richey’s Hacienda Hotel

Hotel renovator approved by council to restore New Port Richey’s Hacienda Hotel

NEW PORT RICHEY — A seasoned historic hotel renovator and operator is going to take a crack at getting New Port Richey’s city-owned Hacienda Hotel back into action. New Port Richey City Council members, acting as the Community Redevelopment Agency, u...
Published: 06/20/18
Pope Francis criticizes Trump’s family-separation policy on migrants, says ‘populism is not the solution’

Pope Francis criticizes Trump’s family-separation policy on migrants, says ‘populism is not the solution’

VATICAN CITY - Pope Francis stepped into a growing controversy over President Donald Trump’s immigration policies, criticizing the separation of migrant families at the U.S.-Mexican border and saying that "populism" and "creating psychosis" are not t...
Published: 06/20/18
Raburn out in State House 57 race. Now who’s in?

Raburn out in State House 57 race. Now who’s in?

Well, that didn’t last long.U.S. Army veteran Michael Sean McCoy filed to run as the Republican candidate in the State House, District 57 race just hours after incumbent State Rep. Jake Raburn, R-Lithia, announced he was stepping down.McCoy, who live...
Published: 06/19/18
Updated: 06/21/18
Romano: A Tampa Bay ‘superstar’ caught in the crosshairs of Trump’s border policy

Romano: A Tampa Bay ‘superstar’ caught in the crosshairs of Trump’s border policy

At this moment, she is Tampa Bay’s most influential export. A smart, accomplished and powerful attorney making life-altering decisions on an international stage.But what of tomorrow? And the day after?When the story of President Donald Trump’s border...
Published: 06/19/18
‘Don’t leave me, Mom’: Detainee tells of separation from son

‘Don’t leave me, Mom’: Detainee tells of separation from son

SEATTLE — The call came at mealtime — an anonymous threat demanding $5,000 or her son’s life. So Blanca Orantes-Lopez, her 8-year-old boy and his father packed up and left the Pacific surfing town of Puerto La Libertad in El Salvador and headed for t...
Published: 06/19/18