Monday, June 25, 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.

Comments
Editorial: Handing out gift cards like candy at CareerSource

Editorial: Handing out gift cards like candy at CareerSource

Itís hard to pick the biggest outrage in the financial and ethical swamp that has swallowed Tampa Bayís two primary job placement agencies, CareerSource Pinellas and CareerSource Tampa Bay. Is it the boiler room atmosphere where CareerSource recruite...
Published: 06/21/18
Updated: 06/22/18

Family separation crisis is not over

The family-separation crisis that President Donald Trump created is not over. The executive order Trump signed Wednesday purporting to end the routine tearing of children from their undocumented parents stands on uncertain legal ground. U.S. border a...
Published: 06/21/18
Updated: 06/22/18
Editorial: State help needed to staff hotlines with veterans helping veterans

Editorial: State help needed to staff hotlines with veterans helping veterans

Veterans can help veterans deal with trauma resulting from military service in a way no one else can. Thatís the theory behind a special hotline set up in the Tampa Bay area that proponents are hoping to take statewide.The expansion would cost some $...
Published: 06/21/18
Updated: 06/22/18
Editorial: With Supreme Court ruling, Florida should collect sales tax from online retailers

Editorial: With Supreme Court ruling, Florida should collect sales tax from online retailers

It turns out the U.S. Supreme Court has a better grasp of the economic realities of the 21st century than Congress or the Florida Legislature. The court ruled Thursday that states can require online retailers to collect sales taxes even if the retail...
Published: 06/21/18
Updated: 06/22/18
Editorial: Congress should ban splitting kids, parents

Editorial: Congress should ban splitting kids, parents

The shocking scenes of immigrant children crying after being taken from their parents at the border exposed a new level of cruelty by the Trump administration, and though the president reversed course Wednesday, Congress needs to end the shameful pra...
Published: 06/21/18

Editorial: Florida needs to explain its own price gouging

In the wake of Hurricane Irma last fall, Attorney General Pam Bondi vowed to scour Florida to prevent businesses from exploiting consumers by price gouging. It turns out she could have just looked down the hall in the state capitol. Based on reportin...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Sessions kickstarts action on marijuana

Sessions kickstarts action on marijuana

Good job, Jeff Sessions! It seems the attorney generalís misguided attempts to revive the unpopular and unjust federal war on marijuana may be having the exact opposite effect ó prompting a new bipartisan effort in Congress to allow states to legaliz...
Published: 06/18/18
Updated: 06/21/18
Editorial: A court victory for protecting Floridaís environment

Editorial: A court victory for protecting Floridaís environment

A Tallahassee judge has affirmed the overwhelming intent of Florida voters by ruling that state lawmakers have failed to comply with a constitutional amendment that is supposed to provide a specific pot of money to buy and preserve endangered lands. ...
Published: 06/18/18
Updated: 06/20/18
Editorial: Trump should stop taking children away from parents at the border

Editorial: Trump should stop taking children away from parents at the border

Innocent children should not be used as political pawns. That is exactly what the Trump administration is doing by cruelly prying young children away from their parents as these desperate families cross the Mexican border in search of a safer, better...
Published: 06/17/18
Updated: 06/19/18

Editorial: ATF should get tougher on gun dealers who violate the law

Gun dealers who break the law by turning a blind eye to federal licensing rules are as dangerous to society as people who have no right to a possess a firearm in the first place. Yet a recent report shows that the federal agency responsible for polic...
Published: 06/17/18
Updated: 06/18/18