Friday, April 20, 2018
Politics

Many Hernando County voters unenthusiastic about choices in GOP primary

There's a saying in Jim White's business that came to the 68-year-old Brooksville resident's mind as he cast a vote Tuesday for his favorite Republican presidential candidate.

"You never quite have the perfect truck, but you get what you can and you use it," said White, who owns Suncoast Truck and Equipment in Brooksville with his wife, Jean, 62.

The couple had just left Grace World Outreach Church in Brooksville, home to Precincts 10 and 22. For the Whites, Mitt Romney is that less-than-perfect truck, a former business executive with government experience who can rein in what they call stifling overregulation and instill confidence in the markets to get credit flowing again. Otherwise, the Whites fear, this could be their last election cycle in business.

Many Hernando County voters interviewed by the Times outside polling places Tuesday offered similar, go-with-the-best-truck sentiments. Neither Romney, a former Massachusetts governor, nor Newt Gingrich, the other GOP frontrunner, sparked real passion in them.

"We could almost flip a coin," said 81-year-old Paul Swauger after he and his wife, Nancy, left Grace World. "They both have good qualities, they would both be admirable in the White House, and they could both beat (President Barack) Obama, and we'd rejoice in that."

Nancy, an 80-year-old retired university professor, sought a little divine guidance.

"I prayed about it really hard," she said.

In the end, they both decided to go with Romney so they wouldn't cancel each other's vote.

Final numbers were not available early Tuesday evening, but voter turnout seemed respectable. Nearly 13,000 of the county's 47,562 registered Republicans had shown up to the polls by 6 p.m., according to the county elections office. Another 3,525 voted early, and more than 1,700 cast absentee ballots.

Many voters said the economy topped their list of important issues.

For Scott Georgalas, a 51-year-old insurance sales representative from Spring Hill, that translated to a vote for Gingrich. When Gingrich was speaker of the U.S. House, the budget got balanced, and the two parties were able to accomplish something, Georgalas said after voting at St. Joan of Arc Catholic Church in Spring Hill.

"I have a feeling if Romney gets in there, it will be the same bickering back and forth," he said. "I gotta go for the track record."

Some voters came to the polls armed with months' worth of conviction.

Deanna Myers, a 44-year-old former restaurant manager who is now working to finish her associate's degree, voted for Romney in 2008 and did so again Tuesday at St. Joan of Arc. She said Romney is best equipped to improve the economy as she searches for a new job.

Thomas Wood, Jr., a retired social worker and administrator from Spring Hill, decided early that Gingrich is most likely to cut government spending.

"I believe the party needs to get back to its roots," Wood said.

Jill Yates, 54, and April Yates, 23, comprised a mother-daughter team for Rick Santorum. The two women acknowledged on their way out of St. Joan of Arc, however, that they'd just cast votes for a candidate who doesn't have a real shot.

April, a chiropractor's assistant, said she considered voting for one of the frontrunners, but her support for Santorum's stances on social issues wouldn't let her.

"I think if more people voted for who they thought was right and not just for who they thought could win, then more candidates of good morals and characteristics would be in office," she said.

Jill Yates said she compromised in the 2008 GOP primary by voting for Romney instead of her real favorite, Mike Huckabee.

"I didn't make the same mistake this time," she said.

Audra Thomason, a 23-year-old Publix cashier and customer service representative from Brooksville, cast a vote for Ron Paul.

Paul doesn't seem like a puppet for special interests like so many other politicians, Thomason said.

Voters generally excoriated Obama. Then there was Stephani Atanacio, a 25-year-old student studying business management and Internet marketing.

Atanacio, who spent seven years in the Navy, voted for Romney at Grace World because of his executive experience. But she said she is generally pleased with Obama, citing his efforts to pull troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan, his support for ending the "don't ask, don't tell" policy for gay military personnel and his work to improve the health care system. Then she offered what would be for her fellow Republicans a cringe-inducing sentiment: She hasn't ruled out voting for Obama in November.

"I think he'd be great for another four years," she said.

Regardless of candidate loyalty, nearly all voters said they were turned off by the barrage of attack ads deployed during the primary campaign.

In fact, that is one area where a little more government regulation might help in the form of a spending cap on advertising, Jim White said.

"That way they explain what they want to do for the country and leave it at that."

Comments
Castor ends speculation: She’s running to be Tampa’s next mayor

Castor ends speculation: She’s running to be Tampa’s next mayor

TAMPA — For months, Tampa political aficionados have speculated: Will she or won’t she?Does Jane Castor, the city’s first woman police chief and presumed heavyweight mayoral candidate, really want the job? Asked and answered. Castor filed paperwork T...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Everybody loses in a trade war, Canadian chamber CEO warns Tampa officials

Everybody loses in a trade war, Canadian chamber CEO warns Tampa officials

TAMPA — President Donald Trump has tweeted "trade wars are good, and easy to win."Don’t believe it, the president of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce told Tampa business and political leaders on Wednesday."We share more with you than with anybody els...
Published: 04/19/18
Hernando clerk of the court announces resignation to run for judicial seat

Hernando clerk of the court announces resignation to run for judicial seat

BROOKSVILLE — Clerk of the Circuit Court and Comptroller Don Barbee this week submitted his resignation — effective Jan. 7 — to run for an open circuit judge seat.Barbee, who is in the middle of his second term, said he made the move "with a tremendo...
Published: 04/17/18
Poll: Democrats’ advantage in midterm election support is shrinking

Poll: Democrats’ advantage in midterm election support is shrinking

Democrats hold an advantage ahead of the midterm elections, but a Washington Post-ABC News poll shows that edge has narrowed since January, a signal to party leaders and strategists that they could be premature in anticipating a huge wave of victorie...
Published: 04/16/18
Spokesman: Former first lady Barbara Bush in failing health

Spokesman: Former first lady Barbara Bush in failing health

HOUSTON — Former first lady Barbara Bush is in "failing health" and won’t seek additional medical treatment, a Bush family spokesman said Sunday. "Following a recent series of hospitalizations, and after consulting her family and doctors...
Published: 04/15/18
Trump assails Comey in tweetstorm, calls for ex-FBI director to be imprisoned

Trump assails Comey in tweetstorm, calls for ex-FBI director to be imprisoned

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump attacked James Comey in a fusillade of tweets Sunday morning, calling for the former FBI director to be imprisoned as Trump served up a number of his favorite theories and alleged misdeeds without evidence.Trump’s ...
Published: 04/15/18
President Trump’s approval rating is back near first-100-day levels

President Trump’s approval rating is back near first-100-day levels

President Donald Trump’s approval rating stands at 40 percent in a new Washington Post-ABC News poll, slightly more than his 36 percent approval rating when last measured in January. It’s also the highest he’s enjoyed in Post-ABC polling since his fi...
Published: 04/15/18
Gun rights advocates holding rallies at state capitols in US

Gun rights advocates holding rallies at state capitols in US

DOVER, Del. — Gun rights supporters — many carrying rifles and ammunition — gathered at state capitols across the U.S. on Saturday to push back against efforts to pass stricter gun-control laws that they fear threaten their constitutional right to be...
Published: 04/15/18
Trump, Abe to meet as U.S.-Japan relationship shows strains over N. Korea, trade

Trump, Abe to meet as U.S.-Japan relationship shows strains over N. Korea, trade

President Donald Trump will welcome Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to Mar-a-Lago this week in an effort to shore up their relationship amid strains in the U.S.-Japan alliance ahead of Trump’s potential summit with the leader of North Korea.Abe is...
Published: 04/14/18
Haley warns that US forces ‘locked and loaded’ if Syria stages another chemical attack

Haley warns that US forces ‘locked and loaded’ if Syria stages another chemical attack

The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations told the Security Council on Saturday that the United States is "locked and loaded," ready to launch another military strike if the Syrian government ever uses chemical weapons again."I spoke to the president...
Published: 04/14/18