Monday, April 23, 2018
Opinion

Nice and nasty does it in politics

If this happened to be a college civics class on good government, it would be perfectly legitimate to ponder the sorry state of political discourse these days with all the nasty campaign ads, the vicious personal attacks, the reckless misrepresentation of facts and pernicious influence of money.

Horrible. Terrible. Shameful. Tut-tut.

But thank goodness we're not in some ivory tower. Whew! Dodged a bullet there, didn't we?

It was the late Washington doyenne Alice Roosevelt Longworth who once said: "If you can't say something nice about someone, sit right here by me." She would probably love to be around today to observe two especially catty races in Pinellas and Hillsborough counties.

In the newly drawn state Senate District 22 race, state Rep. Jim Frishe has uploaded a campaign video portraying his opponent, fellow House Republican Jeff Brandes, as an irritating child pretending to be a big-shot politician.

Frishe insists in the spot that he is the real Republican in the race, and just to make sure the point isn't lost on anyone the candidate invokes Ronald Reagan's name four times, in addition to including Reagan twice in a rolling scroll of his political accomplishments and featuring two photographs of Reagan in the background. All of this Reaganmania in just a 30-second spot.

If only Frishe had had more time, he could have shown up in the Gipper's jodhpurs with a jauntily positioned Stetson.

In further accusing Brandes as a ne'er-do-well poseur with all the genuine conservative credentials of Stephen Colbert's alter ego, Frishe suggests his babycakes opponent has "no idea what a real Reagan Republican is."

Frishe might be on to something, but he certainly can't deny that Jeff Brandes has learned a thing or two about hardball politics by pulling a quick switcheroo in dumping his campaign to be re-elected to the House and jumping into the Senate campaign before Frishe could finish watching Bedtime for Bonzo.

And since there is no Democrat in the District 22 race, whoever wins the Aug. 14 primary takes the Senate seat. Just how deft a politician is Jeff Brandes?

Why he is running around in a current commercial claiming he's not a politician, even through he ran and won a House seat in 2010? And now he's chasing after a Senate job, which involves hiring a consultant, a treasurer, begging people for money, handing out yard signs, showing up at events to slum for votes and plotting against Frishe.

Not a politician? That would be like Gen. George Patton denying that despite the uniform, the medals, the stars and all those dead Germans that he wasn't a soldier.

Meanwhile in Hillsborough County, in recent days unfortunate information concerning state Sen. Ronda Storm's recent short sale of a condo as well as the impending denial of a greenbelt exemption for property she and her family owns has been slinking out from the office of Property Appraiser Rob Turner — who when he isn't otherwise engaged in appraising property, seems to enjoy sending out steamy X-rated emails and text messages to former paramours.

The negative news of course, has nothing whatsoever to do with Storms' decision to run against Turner after salacious details of the property appraiser's wandering keyboard hit the fan. Perish the thought.

If Turner is attempting to suggest Storms isn't qualified to be the property appraiser because of her personal financial and real estate issues, he's completely misreading the dynamics of this race.

Sure, when it comes to property appraising stuff Storms lacks credentials. But this has nothing to do with being an effective property appraiser. It has everything to do with what it takes to be an effective adult.

To be sure, Storms is a bit goofy and more sanctimonious than Elmer Gantry. But she's not creepy, more or less. In this campaign that counts for something.

It is also noteworthy that since Turner was exposed as a serial cad, the property appraiser has opted to campaign via email and text messaging. Then again — ahem — he does have vast experience with mobile communication. And frankly, given Turner's libidinous history, perhaps avoiding pressing too much flesh in person isn't such a bad idea.

It was Saint Reagan who once famously invoked the 11th GOP Commandant: Thou shall not speak ill of a fellow Republican. But that was a very, very long time ago.

Don't you suspect if Reagan was around he might well be thinking to himself: "Where did my party go?"

Then again, if Alice Roosevelt Longworth were observing the local political mosh pit, it be would standing room only.

Class dismissed.

Comments
Editorial: Pruitt sets new low for ethics at EPA

Editorial: Pruitt sets new low for ethics at EPA

Not too many people took then-candidate Donald Trump seriously when he famously campaigned to "drain the swamp" as president. But that shouldn’t give this administration a free pass to excuse the behavior of Scott Pruitt, the administrator of the Env...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Editorial: Allegiant Air still has safety issues

Editorial: Allegiant Air still has safety issues

Allegiant Air’s safety record remains troubling, and the Federal Aviation Administration’s reluctance to talk about it is no more encouraging. Those are the key takeaways from a 60 Minutes report on the low-cost carrier’s high rate of mid-flight brea...
Published: 04/21/18

Editorial: Women’s work undervalued in bay area

Even a strong economy and low unemployment cannot overcome the persistent pay gap affecting full-time working women in Florida. A new report shows women in Florida earned 12.5 percent less on average than their male counterparts, and the disparities ...
Published: 04/21/18

Editorial: A missed chance for open primary elections

The Florida Constitution Revision Commission did a lot of things wrong this week by combining unrelated or unpalatable provisions into single amendments that will appear on the November ballot. It also wasted an opportunity to do one thing right. The...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Editorial: New Cuba president is chance for new start

Editorial: New Cuba president is chance for new start

For all the symbolism, Raul Castro’s handoff of the Cuban presidency this week amounts to less than meets the eye even if his handpicked successor, the Communist Party functionary Miguel Diaz-Canel Bermudez, is the first person not named Castro to le...
Published: 04/20/18
Editorial: When they visit Nature’s Classroom, kids are right where they belong

Editorial: When they visit Nature’s Classroom, kids are right where they belong

The Hillsborough school district planted a fruitful seed with the opening of Nature’s Classroom five decades ago on the cypress-lined banks of the Hillsborough River northeast of Tampa. • The lessons taught there to some 17,000 sixth graders each yea...
Published: 04/20/18

Editorial: Equality pays off on Southwest Flight 1380

The passengers of Southwest Flight 1380 can be thankful that, 33 years ago, the U.S. Navy took the lead on equal opportunity.Capt. Tammie Jo Shults was piloting the flight from New York to Dallas on Tuesday when an engine exploded, blowing out a wind...
Published: 04/19/18
Updated: 04/20/18
Editorial: Why single-member districts would be bad for Hillsborough commission

Editorial: Why single-member districts would be bad for Hillsborough commission

Anyone looking to make Hillsborough County government bigger, costlier, more dysfunctional and less of a regional force should love the idea that Commissioner Sandy Murman rolled out this week. She proposes enlarging the seven-member board to nine, e...
Published: 04/19/18
Updated: 04/20/18
Editorial: Improving foster care in Hillsborough

Editorial: Improving foster care in Hillsborough

A new foster care provider in Hillsborough County is poised to take over operations in May, only months after its predecessor was fired for what was alleged to be a pattern of failing to supervise at-risk children in its care. Many of the case manage...
Published: 04/18/18

Another voice: Back to postal reform

President Donald Trump is angry at Amazon for, in his tweeted words, "costing the United States Post Office massive amounts of money for being their Delivery Boy." Yet in more recent days, Trump has at least channeled his feelings in what could prove...
Published: 04/17/18
Updated: 04/18/18