Saturday, June 23, 2018
Politics

Liberal firebrand speaks at Pinellas Democrats' annual dinner

PINELLAS PARK — Former congressman Alan Grayson led off with a calm voice and a request for a prayer.

A change of heart by the liberal Democrat with a national reputation for caustic remarks? No chance.

"Dear Lord, thank God I'm a Democrat. And thank God I did not have to vote in the Republican presidential primary," he told Pinellas County Democrats on Saturday night.

"They're all a bunch of losers," he said of the GOP hopefuls.

Grayson, from the Orlando area, is running to return to Congress after being defeated in 2010. His speech came as Pinellas Democrats themselves try to rebuild and re-energize. His theme: what it means to be a Democrat.

He told the crowd of 400 at the party's annual Kennedy-King Dinner that Democrats try to help people struggling for jobs, food and mortgage payments.

"We don't always succeed, but at least we're pushing in that direction," he said. "Think to yourself, what is the Republican plan to end hunger in America? Go on a diet."

Although party leaders exuded enthusiasm, local Democrats face a struggle in 2012 to overcome years of Republican dominance in Pinellas politics.

President Barack Obama won Pinellas in 2008, and Democrats gained the lead in county voter registration. But local Democratic candidates didn't see much advantage. And in 2010, Republicans rode the tea party wave to knock out Democratic incumbents on the County Commission and in the Florida House.

From 2009 to the end of 2011, Pinellas Republicans raised $606,000, while Democrats have raised $140,000.

"We have a lot of ground to make up in this state, a lot of ground," Grayson said, noting shortfalls in Democrats who use mail ballots.

But Mark Hanisee, chairman of the Pinellas Democratic Party, said 2012 is different because the local party has good leadership and Obama is running as an incumbent, not a challenger.

"The difference I see is there's more focus and more coordination here," said Hanisee, who helped lead the county party's fundraising in 2008.

David DeCamp can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/DeCampTimes.

Comments
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
Trump defiant as border crisis escalates, prepares to lobby House GOP on immigration bills

Trump defiant as border crisis escalates, prepares to lobby House GOP on immigration bills

WASHINGTON - As he prepared to visit Capitol Hill, President Donald Trump on Tuesday continued to insist that Congress produce comprehensive immigration legislation, while anxious Republicans explored a narrower fix to the administration policy of se...
Published: 06/19/18
Trump, GOP to huddle as outrage builds over border policy

Trump, GOP to huddle as outrage builds over border policy

WASHINGTON (AP) — Calls are mounting on Capitol Hill for the Trump administration to end the separation of families at the southern border ahead of a visit from President Donald Trump to discuss legislation.Trump’s meeting late Tuesday afternoon with...
Published: 06/19/18