Wednesday, May 23, 2018
Politics

The notable name game, and other political tales

With the primary elections mere weeks away, mailboxes are filling with interesting missives.

Among the usual campaign pieces with The Other Guy In The Race photographed looking either sinister or stupid, one notable local ad features a noble-looking fighter pilot standing next to an impressive-looking jet.

Vote Absentee for Norman Cannella for Judge, it says. DISCIPLINE HONOR RESPECT.

Except if you check the caption, the bomber pilot pictured is in fact not Norman-Cannella-for-Hillsborough-County-judge. It's his father, Norman S. Cannella Sr., reaching up to touch that F-4 Phantom fighter.

Cannella the elder is a longtime, well-known, even iconic figure around Tampa's courthouses. The actual candidate is his son, lawyer Norman Cannella Jr. The ad says the younger learned the above-listed principles from the older. The other side details candidate Cannella Jr.'s career.

You heard some courthouse grumblings on this. Can a father's legendary name and storied career get someone elected — particularly when that name is identical to the candidate's own?

"Everybody knows who Norman Cannella Sr. is and everyone knows who his son is," says Ana Cruz, a political consultant working with Cannella. And offspring of well-known people running for office are "nothing new to Hillsborough County politics."

For the record, he is listed as Norman S. Cannella — no Jr. — on the August ballot against incumbent County Judge Chris Nash.

Speaking of politics and pictures, if you are a sitting governor dodging accusations that you have done little to move your state forward, it may be unwise to pose for photos smiling in the passenger seat of a driverless car, as Gov. Rick Scott did this week.

Think of the possibilities for the Other Guy's campaign mailer:

Who's Really Driving Florida?

Or for the anti-gun crowd: Rick Scott, Riding Shotgun for the NRA.

Wait — he might want to use that one himself.

We are in the dog days of summer, and no one knows this better than candidates walking neighborhoods for votes. Unscientific observation from one candidate who has knocked on thousands of doors: About 80 percent of super-voters — those who vote and are likely to vote again — turn out to be dog people.

And, small dogs are meaner.

Unlike cities and counties around Florida, Hills­borough commissioners last year rejected the basic humanity of a domestic partner registry allowing unmarried couples, gay or straight, to have a say in each other's lives in times of illness or tragedy. The vote by four commissioners against allowing grownup people to make those decisions for themselves was disappointing — particularly for a board that has lately tried for a less pinched tone.

Since then, for the first time and without the public much noticing, commissioners approved allowing the unmarried partners of county employees to be included in their health, dental and vision plans.

"It's good step for employees," says Mike Merrill, the county administrator, and also a good business decision for a county competing to attract the best and brightest.

It's a small step that happened quietly, but hey, it happened.

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