Monday, June 18, 2018
Opinion

Ruth: Politicians get history lessons from voters

There are probably a few lessons to be gleaned from Tuesday's primary election night, although no one is ever likely to heed them. Holding elective office is an elixir of sorts for some people who can't resist the roar of the body politic, the smell of power.

Let's start with the defrocked Hillsborough Property Appraiser Rob Turner, who argued he deserved to remain in office because he had done such a swell job property appraising.

Turner is right on that count. He did do a good job. But it's pretty clear he also scored equally high on the creepier than Gary Busey scale with voters.

No matter how able one might be in one's job, it is not a good idea to be caught up in a scandal involving sending pornographic emails to a subordinate, with whom one once had a dangerous liaison — and then firing her. Bad form.

It also doesn't help when the coo-coo-ca-choo hit the fan that Turner attempted to campaign from Dick Cheney's undisclosed location, refusing to do interviews and communicating with inquiring reporters only by email. Sheesh, Howard Hughes was more accessible.

So it says something about what dire straits Turner was in when he was defeated by state Sen. Ronda Storms, the Aimee Semple McPherson of east Hillsborough, who even admitted she really didn't know diddly about property appraising, but at least she wasn't especially icky and would hire people to do the appraising stuff.

And that was good enough for GOP primary voters to rid themselves of the lounge lizard of Kennedy Boulevard.

John Grant III pulled a Connie Mack and thought if he dropped all those Roman numerals voters would think they were really voting for his daddy, a former well known state senator, to a judgeship. The schtik might have worked, too, if only the younger Grant hadn't had some DUI charges in his background.

Is it fair to hold someone's past against them, especially if the offenses occurred a while ago? Probably not, although when you're running for judge, it probably doesn't look good if you've ever had your Miranda rights read to you.

Grant had to know the risk of seeking a seat on the bench would also entail elements of an embarrassing past being used against him. He went ahead anyway.

Johnnie Byrd thought perhaps he too could ride into a judgeship based on his name and his earlier post as a Speaker of the Florida House. Unfortunately he was a truly dreadful speaker, who sent even his fellow Republicans scurrying to grab some garlic and a wooden stake whenever they ran into him. It also didn't help to campaign as if he was good ol' boy Buford T. Justice either.

This may be giving the electorate too much credit for infusing nuance with their vote. But a case could be made that when you run around pretending to be all morally upright and biblical it does sort of seem rather hypocritical to run such a nasty, sleazy campaign, as Rachel Burgin did against Tom Lee to capture a state Senate seat.

Lee is probably no angel. Alas, Burgin would like you to think she is.

And so her efforts to smear Lee were hardly filled with Christian compassion for her fellow man. You can't campaign like Mongo in Blazing Saddles and still expect the public to regard you as Little Miss Muffet.

Is there is a lesson in all of this? Maybe it is that citizens are willing to accept a certain degree of human frailty in a candidate just as long as they don't have to take a shower after leaving the voting booth.

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