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  1. Opinion

Ruth: Third-party candidates are killing me

Published Nov. 9, 2018

After all the hoopla of last Tuesday night, Gov.-elect Ron DeSantis is about to discover he has a bit of a problem.

Sure the governor's gig comes with a very nice mansion and thanks to a Florida Department of Law Enforcement security detail DeSantis won't have to be bothered with irritating stuff like red lights. Nice.

However, if the new governor has to travel from remote Tallahassee, which is located somewhere between where Moses lost his sandals and "you can't get there from here," DeSantis may find the trip a bit daunting since one of the first things his predecessor Rick Scott did upon assuming office eight years ago was to sell off the state's fleet of planes, preferring instead to get around on his own private jet.

Perhaps that would have made sense for say, the governor of Rhode Island, but Florida is roughly 65,755 square miles. One can only imagine DeSantis flying Allegiant Airlines to get from Tallahassee to Key West. Fun.

At any rate, DeSantis won the job by a gnat's patootie, or about 1 percent. And so the next time somebody says their vote doesn't count, feel free to hit them with a custard pie. Which brings us to my lifelong fantasy to be king of Florida for just one day.

There are many ways I could abuse my power, like issuing an edict requiring the Tampa Bay Bucs to play all their games wearing court jester costumes. Wouldn't that be oh so "Dilly, Dilly!"

Instead, I think I would use my one day on the throne of Tallahassee, which is really an old Seminole term for "Can you believe we just did that!?!?", to ban all third-, fourth- and fifth-party candidates from completely blowing up elections in this state.

Consider that Ron DeSantis won the governorship by about 43,000 votes out of more than eight million ballots cast. Fair enough.

However, nearly 100,000 Floridians with gruel for brains also voted for a litany of fringe candidates running for governor who had less chance of getting elected to the parliament of Fredonia, much less the top job in state government.

Now it is certainly true there is no way to know if the citizens who voted for these pre-doomed vanity candidates would have turned out on election day for either DeSantis or the Democratic gubernatorial candidate, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, had their preferred choice of Sad Sacks not been on the ballot. Or would they have even voted at all?

What we do know is 100,000 gormless souls simply threw their ballot and their voice away. And that's the thing about democracy, one of its perverse charms perhaps. People have the unquestioned freedom to be dumber than a sack of mold spores on election day.

Why do people willfully self-disenfranchise themselves? And yet we see this amazing sight every election cycle, as various libertarians, Green Party types, Watchagot grumps and all the rest of the Whitman's Sampler of political comic relief gadflies pop up like weeds to run for something or another.

They accomplish nothing. They get elected to nothing. They leave behind nothing, except just enough gullible voters to potentially influence the outcome of a close election.

Many of these candidates acknowledge the obvious — that they can't possibly win. But they — ahem — persist, arguing by throwing their dunce hat in the ring, they are making a statement, or are attempting to bring to light some pet cause, or perhaps a few of the more delusional faux pols hope all the other candidates in the race will be abducted by aliens leaving them the last one standing.

They should be shamed in the public square for annoying everyone. Well, I am exercising my discretion as king, after all.

The problem with all these wannabe glad-handers is hardly anybody cares what they think except for those 100,000 Three Card Monte political marks who have been bamboozled into voting for the equivalent of the Blazing Saddles Gov. Lepetomine. Let freedom ring.

Can you imagine Gillum waking up the morning after the election and pondering the possibility he might have been denied the governorship of Florida because he lost votes to the Tin Foil Hat Party?

There are better ways to spread a so-called message that doesn't involve gumming up the works on election day with candidates who have all the political future of Paul Manafort. Isn't that why Twitter was created? So that everybody could have their own personal foaming soap box?

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