Friday, November 16, 2018
Politics

Iorio pushing for change, and possibly a governorship

Hey, did you hear that former Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio is running for governor?

Okay, not exactly. At least, not yet. Though technically, that is what she told me.

But more on that in a minute.

What actually put Iorio back in the headlines this week is this election cycle's glaring evidence of how badly Florida treats voters and voting.

Fewer days to vote early (and from me, thanks so much to Gov. Rick Scott and the Republican-led Legislature for this cynical effort to squelch the voices of minorities and other Democrat-leaning types.)

Absurdly long lines at the polls. People waiting hours to cast ballots. The vote count dragging on in South Florida. More embarrassment for our state.

It's enough to make a former elections supervisor like Iorio want to, well, form a serious statewide coalition to recommend important voting changes to Tallahassee. (Practical Pam is not the tear-her-hair-out type.)

"Two reforms. They're not radical. Shorten the ballot and increase early voting," she says. "These are really doable things."

Her ideas include expanding early voting sites beyond government buildings (and come to think of it, how come the neighborhood Moose Lodge or Baptist Church is fine for election day but not before?) And limit how many amendments legislators can cram on the ballot (which, in Miami, was an absurd 10 pages this time.)

When you listen to Iorio say things like, "Early voting is the best thing that has happened to elections," you do not doubt her sincerity.

But it also gives those of us so inclined a chance to look for clues to what this push for post-election reform might mean politically — should Iorio decide to make that long-rumored run for governor.

Though a Democrat, she praises Republican Jeb Bush's "leadership" after the 2000 election. Very across-the-aisle. She plans to take her proposed reforms to Tallahassee in the coming legislative session — interesting, since common wisdom says her biggest hurdle in a governor's race would be a lack of statewide recognition.

Given the outcome of this week's election, Democrats must be thinking: Hey, one of our own could actually win governor. And it doesn't hurt that the current occupant has rendered himself as popular as a bowl of cold oatmeal.

Iorio told me voters' rights have been of great interest to her since she was getting her master's degree in American history and studying Florida civil rights.

"That's what motivated me to run for governor,"

Did she say … governor?

Iorio? Who keeps her own counsel even as speculation swirls around her, who consistently maintains she's not running for anything at the moment? Iorio, who is careful to say this push for voting change has nothing to do with any future political plans?

Turns out she meant her interest in voting rights is what motivated her to run for mayor, not governor, a Freudian slip that might have something to do with the fact that I bring up the governor thing every time I talk to her. Me and plenty of others, I'm guessing.

But those of us looking for change can hope, both in fixing how we vote and in who gets to run the state next time around. Stay tuned.

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