Friday, April 27, 2018
Editorials

Tied Hernando race signals ballot apathy, GOP divide

Every vote counts. It is the immediate lesson from Tuesday's Hernando County primary election. More than 400 Republicans who participated in the primary failed to cast a vote in the District 3 County Commission race between incumbent John Druzbick and challenger Jason Patrick Sager.

The down ballot apathy contributed to the dead heat between Druzbick and Sager with each receiving 6,097 votes, according to the unofficial final results that underwent a recount Wednesday. (The first recount, done by machine, gave Sager an eight-vote edge.)

Compare the turnout to the Republican primary for Hernando sheriff. There, Al Nienhuis and Bobby Sullivan combined for 12,630 votes, 436 more than in the District 3 race. Even the supervisor of elections GOP primary drew greater participation than Druzbick and Sager. Shirley Anderson and her two vanquished opponents totaled 12,290 votes, or 96 more than the commission race.

That Republican voters would show more interest in deciding an administrative position that only gains notoriety every other year rather than picking county policy-makers controlling the property tax rate is both remarkable and befuddling.

The interest can be attributed, in part, to Anderson's political acumen and the stumbling of retiring supervisor, Annie B. Williams, whose performance Tuesday evening again raises questions about her lack of detail. Williams released tardy versions of supposed final results after adding previously uncounted absentee ballots in her Spring Hill office.

In the District 3 commission race, the vote shows the Republican Party's identity crisis. It split evenly between Sager's tea party philosophy of dismantling government services and Druzbick's more moderate approach that included a call for a property tax rate increase to try to balance the county budget with fewer service reductions.

Sager's aggressive but charismatic campaigning, frequent recitation of inflated budget figures, and name recognition from a failed congressional run just two years ago boosted his candidacy. Druzbick's base included much of the old-guard business community and power brokers, but his support fell nearly 1,700 votes short of fellow Republican incumbent Jim Adkins who received similar business backing and cruised to a GOP primary victory in District 5 by touting his conservative credentials. Meanwhile, in the District 1 primary to succeed Commissioner Jeff Stabins, Republican voters opted for the most moderate candidate, Nick Nicholson, over his more conservative opponents, Michael Burmann and Richard J. Matassa.

The winners of all three commission races face additional opponents in November. Sparking public interest beyond 15 percent turnout and encouraging those who do cast ballots to actually weigh in on these important local races is a universal challenge facing all Hernando candidates.

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Editorial: It’s up to Florida’s voters to restore felons’ civil rights now

The disappointing ruling Wednesday by a federal appeals court should erase any doubt that the decision on restoring voting rights for felons rests solely on the conscience of Florida voters. A tortured ruling by the minimum majority of a three-judge ...
Updated: 12 hours ago
Editorial: St. Petersburg’s waste-to-energy to wastefulness project

Editorial: St. Petersburg’s waste-to-energy to wastefulness project

A St. Petersburg waste-to-energy plant now under construction has been billed for years as an environmentally friendly money saver. Now it looks more like a boondoggle, with the cost and mission changing on the fly. It’s yet another example of a city...
Published: 04/25/18
Updated: 04/26/18

‘Happy hour’ tax cuts may result in hangovers

Evidence is mounting that the $1.5 trillion tax-cut package enacted in December by congressional Republicans and President Donald Trump was a bad idea, not only for the long-run health of the economy but for the short-term political prospects of the ...
Published: 04/25/18
Editorial: As USFSP consolidation task force meets, openness and collaboration are key

Editorial: As USFSP consolidation task force meets, openness and collaboration are key

Writing a new law that phases out separate accreditation for the University of South Florida St. Petersburg and folds it back into the major research university was the easy part. The hard work starts today when a new consolidation task force holds i...
Published: 04/23/18
Updated: 04/25/18

Correction

CorrectionCircuit Judge John Stargel of Lakeland is a member of the Florida Constitution Revision Commission who voted against a proposed amendment that would have stopped write-in candidates from closing primary elections. An editorial Saturday inco...
Published: 04/23/18
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...
Published: 04/22/18
Updated: 04/23/18
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: Florida’s death penalty fading away on its own

Editorial: Florida’s death penalty fading away on its own

Florida lawmakers may never take the death penalty off the books, but stronger forces are steadily eroding this inhumane, outdated tool of injustice. Court rulings, subsequent changes to law and waning public support have significantly suppressed the...
Published: 04/20/18
Updated: 04/24/18

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...
Published: 04/20/18
Updated: 04/23/18