No Biden, no Palin, no interrupt-your-dinner polling or electioneering via the telephone. Election Day 2008 is upon us, and it is time for voters to have their say.
The importance of Pasco County and of Florida in the national election drew both major parties' vice presidential candidates to Sims Park last week. Combined, U.S. Sen. Joe Biden and Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin drew crowds estimated at 9,000, with the Republicans having a heavier turnout Saturday morning.
The enthusiasm among the rank-and-file partisan crowds is to be expected. Elsewhere, the understated tenor of many races turned negative. Roadside pickets sported signs that went from supporting one presidential candidate to calling another a Marxist. The efforts drew both honks of support and derogatory and profane rebukes. The avalanche of direct-mail advertising included exaggerations, flip-flops and typical late-in-the-campaign distortions.
In some instances, what wasn't said was more relevant than the promises or criticisms. In telephone calls Monday, white supremist John J. Ubele pledged lower gasoline taxes without mentioning his racist platform in his campaign for the state House of Representatives. Voters shouldn't be fooled by his ambiguity.
More than 35 percent of the registered voters already have decided. In Pasco County, 103,389 voters cast ballots via early voting and absentee balloting. More than 140,000 additional voters could go to the polls today.
Besides selecting the next president of the United States, voters will be deciding the makeup of Pasco's legislative and congressional delegations, two County Commission seats, the constitutional offices of sheriff, elections supervisor and clerk of the circuit court, a judicial post and the superintendent of schools.
Polls are open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Here are the recommendations from the Times editorial board:
U.S. House District 5: Ginny Brown-Waite
U.S. House District 9: Gus Bilirakis
State Senate District 11: Mike Fasano
State House District 44: Jason Melton (Replaced Joe Puglia)
State House District 46: John Legg
County Commission, District 3: Ann Hildebrand
County Commission, District 5: Jack Mariano
Sheriff: Bob White
School superintendent: Heather Fiorentino
Supervisor of elections: Brian Corley
Circuit Court clerk: Paula O'Neil
6th Circuit Court judge, Group 8: Robert Angus Williams