Saturday, June 23, 2018
Opinion

Ruth: No Jolly Pinellas Democrats

This isn't a political party. It's a bunch of pouty, finger-painting kindergarteners masquerading as Democrats.

How else to explain the Pinellas County Democratic Party's gaga reaction to an announced candidate, Ed Jany, to take on incumbent Republican Rep. David Jolly in November. This chap just recently turned Democrat, does not live in Pinellas County and has declined to take a stand on issues as sublime as beach renourishment, which is sort of a big deal for a congressional district that is situated along a beach.

And yet St. Petersburg minister Manuel Sykes was brow-beaten out of the race by county Democratic big shots, who have to be denser than a sack of avocado pits, because they viewed the reverend as unelectable?

It's not that Jany, 49, doesn't have an impressive resume. He does. As a soon-to-retire Marine Corps colonel, Jany is a former law enforcement official. He has served in the Army's Special Forces over the course of several tours of duty — all highly commendable credentials, especially if the candidate was positioning himself to get promoted to general.

But as a political candidate, Jany is at best the rawest of recruits. He has no campaign organization. No fundraising apparatus. And he just apparently started calling himself a Democrat a few months ago — too soon to qualify to be called one on the ballot under state law.

Jany has yet to articulate any positions on issues, aside from offering boilerplate bumper-sticker lines about how Congress needs someone with the discipline of a Marine. Other than that, Jany is practically the Franklin Roosevelt of District 13.

How long a road does Jany have to replace Jolly? The other candidate in the race, Libertarian Lucas Overby, in his second run against Jolly, enters the campaign with more name recognition than the "Democrat"' who won't be called a Democrat on the ballot.

It will be interesting this time around if Jolly attempts to pull an Alex Sink-as-Craven-Interloper, in a specious effort to smear Jany as an opportunistic carpetbagger slinking into Pinellas County from Tampa to steal a congressional seat. Given Jany's military standing, that may be enough to insulate him from the demagogic posturing.

Still when you can't even run as a bona fide Democrat, Jany's prospects can't be encouraging, especially against an incumbent who will benefit from gobs of Republican money.

And that makes the bum's rush given to Sykes all the more curious. Sure, the reverend was unlikely to beat Jolly. But at least he's a longtime Democrat. At least he had more name recognition than Jany. At least he was familiar with the area. At least he isn't shy about expressing his opinions. It's just a guess, but Sykes probably has a position on beach renourishment.

Instead, Sykes was threatened by Pinellas County Democratic Party Chairman Mark Hanisee that unless he withdrew from the District 13 race, he would be "persona non grata" within the party. Memo: It might be useful to actually have a party to be persona non grata in.

Stay classy, Mark Hanisee.

And therein did Sykes learn a valuable political lesson. There are smoke-filled rooms. And there are hokum-filled goons.

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