1. Florida Politics

Romano: What are the odds Florida can lead in a good direction for once?

Former Congressmen Patrick Murphy, left, and David Jolly shared the stage during a forum at the University of South Florida in October, and are now discussing whether to make a bipartisan run for the Governor's Mansion in Florida. [Photo by Tom Wagner]
Published Apr. 30, 2018

We swear we are better than this.

Better than the extremes, and better than the barbs. Too many of us sit atop high horses and claim America's divisiveness is the fault of the fringes, both left and right.

It's a wonderfully satisfying and snooty position to take.

But what happens if somebody calls our bluff?

Because that's what Patrick Murphy and David Jolly are contemplating. They are talking about offering Florida voters a bipartisan ticket for governor unlike anything we're accustomed to.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Murphy-Jolly idea comes amid a push for a new approach to politics

One Democrat, one Republican and one challenge to how we see ourselves.

If we really are tired of allowing the zealots among us to dictate the starting line for political races, then we should welcome an idea that promises bipartisan solutions from the beginning.

We should be clamoring for it, really.

Except it already feels like a long shot.

First of all, Murphy and Jolly haven't even decided whether they're going to run. They've been feeling out voters with a poll and touching base with business types about campaign fundraising.

And you have to know the political parties hate the concept. To them, the idea of one of their own cozying up to a rival is no better than an independent, third-party run. Maybe worse.

The most conservative Republicans won't go for it. Neither will the most liberal Democrats.

So who does that leave?

Well, you.

If you really do believe the country, and Florida in particular, needs a less ideologically driven vision, then you should be all over this idea. If you believe 48 percent of the voters should not be dismissed for four-year stretches — which is pretty much what we're used to — then you should give some thought to an alternative route.

Naturally, it will take some convincing and educating.

Like why is the Democrat Murphy on the top of the ticket? (Because Jolly would not have a prayer in the Republican primary.)

And will Murphy cede enough input? (Jolly wouldn't be considering this if they hadn't already come to an understanding.)

And exactly how would the power structure work? (With the GOP firmly entrenched in the state House and Senate, Jolly could be a dealmaker between the executive and legislative branches.)

There's also a question of resumes. Between them, Murphy and Jolly have served 3 ½ terms in Congress.

Is that enough?

Considering Gwen Graham and Ron DeSantis have only won four congressional elections between them, Philip Levine and Andrew Gillum are one-term mayors, and Richard Corcoran has never topped 10,000 votes in an election, the Murphy-Jolly ticket isn't exactly an outlier.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Gwen Graham's record front and center at first Democratic gubernatorial debate

And so that leaves how voters will respond to a ticket that was created to cater to a less-partisan voter.

I reached Jolly last week and he declined to talk about the governor's race, but did discuss what he and Murphy have gleaned as they've visited college campuses recently on a speaking tour.

"Being bipartisan doesn't necessarily mean being moderate, it doesn't mean you have to check your ideologies at the door,'' he said. "You can be a strong conservative or a strong progressive, and still work together to accomplish something meaningful.''

So will they run?

It may be up to you.


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