Category Archives: Republican Party

South Carolina Shocker

I was surprised to wake up this morning to see that former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich had won the South Carolina primary. And won it convincingly.

Newt Gingrich by Gage SkidmoreThe final tally showed Gingrich winning the primary by 12 points over former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, and it puts what the Romney camp had hoped would be a quick march to the nomination into serious question. Romney has the backing of much of the Republican power structure. He’s already spending millions for advertising in Florida, which votes a week from Tuesday.

I’ve been watching Gingrich since he ascended to the Speakership in 1994. I was working for C-SPAN at the time, and Gingrich was famous for his “Special Orders” speeches, conducted in the House after the close of official business. The speeches, which could last as much as an hour, were delivered to a mostly-empty house chamber, but recorded and aired by the house television system and read into the Congressional record. It was one of the tactics that brought the speaker national recognition.

Now Gingrich, who many had discounted as unelectable, won by a substantial margin, and turned the nomination process into a horserace. He went on the offensive with the news media a debate the day ABC news aired an interview with his second ex-wife in which she asserted he had asked for an “open Mitt Romney by Gage Skidmoremarriage,” which under many circumstances could have spelled the end to his campaign. He blasted CNN for opening the debate with a question about his personal life, and said it was “despicable” for them to do so. By doing that, it’s possible he raised his standing with many of South Carolina’s conservative voters who have a pretty low opinion of the national news media. It’s certain that his debate performance  on that issue was a factor, and maybe a major factor, in his win Saturday. It can’t, however, be discounted that voters do not register by political party in South Carolina. Democrats and independents are allowed to vote in the Republican primary. It leads one to wonder how many Democrats may have turned out to cast a vote for Gingrich because they saw him as the weaker candidate, more easily defeated by Barack Obama in the fall. But President Obama would underestimate former Speaker Gingrich at his own peril.

Now, the campaign comes to Florida, where only Republicans can vote in the primary. There is a debate here in Jacksonville at UNF January 26th, and I’m expecting that my phone will start ringing incessantly with robo-calls not later than Monday. But unlike South Carolina, Florida is not a traditional “southern” state. There is an extensive diversity of thought here. The Panhandle and northeast Florida are more conservative, like the “traditional” south, which may give Gingrich and advantage. But the central and southern areas, largely from the I-4 corridor to south Florida will be more moderate, and potentially more favorable to Romney. It’s possible the Florida can make the decision, but it’s just as likely that the nominating campaign will go deep into the spring. It does appear now that the field has been winnowed to two, though former Senator Rick Santorum and Congressman Ron Paul will probably hang on as long as money continues to come in. We will see in a week if the Florida balloting swings the momentum back to Romney, or gives Gingrich an additional boost. Let the robo-calls begin. (Photos from Wikipedia by Gage Skidmore)



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Filed under Elections, Politics, Primarys, Republican Party

Why Not A Moderate?

With the New Hampshire primary today (Tuesday), South Carolina on the 21st and Florida on the 31st, the nation is deep into its quadrennial process of selecting a President. With only token opposition to President Obama’s reelection (sorry, Darcy), even his failure to file a slate of delegates in  New Hampshire and problems with the Georgia ballot over birth certificate issues are unlikely to derail his path to the nomination.

On the Republican side, the national media has been almost obsessed with the “flavor of the month.” Each of the “not Romney” candidates has had his or her flirtation with being the candidate who can beat the former Massachusetts governor. And all the talk is “who is the true ‘conservative’ in the race?” They seem enthralled with who has the backing of the Tea Party.

But more important is, who can get things done?

The political parties have become increasingly polarized. Run to the right (or the left) for the nomination, and then to the center to win the general. The conventional wisdom leaves many voters wondering which candidate is the real candidate. The hard-line conservative or liberal who wins the nomination, or the more moderate candidate who might win the general.GOP elephant

Which begs the question … when did it become a sin to be a moderate in a primary election?

Most of us are somewhere in the middle. Is it possible that more people might turn out for a primary election if they thought there was a candidate in the race that appealed to them? So often, it seems, the moderates who will come out in the general election are voting for what they consider the least objectionable of two candidates because that candidate has expressed views they find distasteful pandering to the extreme of one side or the other to win the nomination. Is it any wonder why so many people say they have not enthusiastically voted for a candidate in years, if ever, maybe at any level.

In 1969, Richard Nixon called on what he referred to as the “vast silent majority” to support his plan to end the war in Vietnam. That silent majority still exists today. The majority of Americans who want to be involved in politics, but also have the priority of keeping the mortgage paid and the kids in school and food on the table and gas in the car. They want Washington, and Tallahassee (or insert your state capital here) and even city hall to do what they do and mostly leave them alone. They don’t turn out for primary elections because, if they’ve paid attention at all, they’ve heard a lot of far left or far right rhetoric and phony talking points that are absolutely as canned as they sound … and so what’s the point? It’s always for “the children” or “working Americans”, and, depending on party affiliation,  against “corporate fat cats” or “tax and spend liberals.” And both sides serve up a health dose of vitriol for the dreaded “Washington insiders” and “career politicians.”

The candidate that appeals to the moderate Republican is one who will be fiscally responsible and doesn’t want to impose his or her morality on the rest of the nation. I want a candidate who supports a strong defense, truly equal opportunity for all … including middle-aged white males who are trying just as hard, or maybe harder than anyone else to support their families. I’m a proud moderate Republican. I think there are maybe millions more like me, and it’s time we started voting in primary elections. I do, for no other reason than to tell whomever has run to the far right that we’re here, and we do vote.

I VotedThe good news, for me at least, is that the frontrunner for the Republican nomination in 2012 appears to be a moderate. To me, the rest of the field has been fairly weak, though some candidates had their appeal. Speaker Gingrich is almost always the smartest person in the room, but Governor Romney is the candidate who thinks most like I do.

The bottom line is, moderates have to stop being afraid to speak up when they disagree with the hard-liners. I can’t be the only one who is tired of being told I’m not “Republican” enough. If Republicans truly want to be a majority party, and not just “not Democrats” occasionally, it’s the moderates who will take them there.

Make room in that “big tent,” … you’ll be glad you did.



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Filed under Moderates, Politics, Republican Party

Media Blitz

JORS Logo And I’m not talking about Michael Jackson.  Although the taxpayers of Los Angeles should not be forced to pay for that circus of a memorial service. Whether or not he deserved it is another matter entirely. Only heads of state should get that kind of treatment at taxpayer expense. If you want to throw a big hoo-rah, for what ever reason, throw it yourself.

Of course, I don’t pay taxes in California. Maybe they’ll cool with it, but I digress. And that’s the last an only Michael comment I’m likely to make.

My media blitz was yesterday getting through the first JORS, which will become the Blog’s official shorthand for The Jacksonville Observer Radio Show. A couple of statistics that have come my way.

My furthest away listener (that I know of) was in St. Paul, Minnesota. My friend Beth Talisman, who was actually my boss at C-SPAN a long time ago, tuned in on the interwebs to listen. She’s a staunch liberal, and a very close friend. You may see us banter back and forth on Facebook from time to time. But when we worked together on The Weekly Radio Journal, we really made a damn fine radio program. She’s out of the business entirely now, loving her now-not-so-new nursing career. I’m still hanging on, kind of by my fingernails, but hanging on.

Second was probably my daughter Jenni, who’s in Springfield, Virginia right now. I’m sure she’s never head me on the radio in that kind of format, but I’m thrilled she was listening. Sometimes I think maybe this new-fangled internet thing might come to something after all.

Austin pulled some of the stats after he posted the show online today. 38 plays so far, from either the WBOB site or from The Jacksonville Observer. One more, now, since I went and listened to the first few minutes a while ago, but I promise, only one of those clicks is mine.

I credit a lot of that to some good old fashioned promotion. We did station promos, of course, but didn’t know we were getting the Mayor until after we’d cut the promo. Austin did some guerilla marketing at the Tea Party at the landing, having a couple of people hand out flyers promoting both The Observer and the show. I blasted my Facebook, Outlook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.  Andie blasted her contact list, and I know Austin promoted it heavily on The Observer site.

All in all, not bad. And thanks to everyone who has sent e-mails either before or since the show. It means a lot to me. You can find a link to the show here if you’d like to listen.

RPDC Logo And speaking of media blitzes, Lenny Curry, chair of the Duval County Republican Party, has been in the middle of one following the Tea Party. A few looney toons showed up carrying signs depicting President Obama as Hitler. Somebody got a notion in their head that the GOP had paid for the event and sanctioned the signs. Neither is true, of course, but some people never seem to let the facts get in the way of a good story. It was picked up by totally unbiased The Huffington Post and from there, MSNBC “talent” Keith Olberman got a hold of it … long story short Olberman wound up naming Curry as “The Worst Person In The World” the other day.

Of course, Olberman didn’t bother to check out who had actually paid for the rally, that there were Republican, Democrats, and Independents in the crowd, or even how to pronounce “Duval”.  “du VAHL”, Olberman intoned. Not “DU vahl” as we say in these parts. Of course, he doesn’t live here, has probably never even slowed down here on his way to Boca, or where ever he might go in Florida.

But more to the point, all those people who are so adamant about condemning Curry and the GOP for what they didn’t do seem to have conveniently forgotten the invectives hurled at President Bush and Vice President Cheney for so many years. Bush was often depicted as a Nazi by the extreme left, and Cheney drew comparisons of Josef Stalin and Darth Vader. Don’t believe me? You don’t have to. Do a quick Google image search on “Bush Hitler”. I couldn’t bring myself to post an example. President Bush was called every name in the book, particularly as people became more enthralled by Barack Obama.

Pot … Kettle … Black.

Nah, that’s too easy to forget. Or they think it’s OK.

Now, neither President Obama nor former President Bush deserve to be compared to Adolph Hitler. I had my disagreements with President Bush, and I certainly have some with President Obama, but Hitler? As the now-seemingly articulate guys on ESPN said last season “C’MON, MAN!”

I really hope they bring back that segment.

No matter where you are on the political spectrum, there are going to be people you think are just beyond the pale. But do you condemn an entire political party for the views of a few outliers who may or may not even be welcome? I don’t know any mainstream Republicans who would welcome those who carried the signs with open arms, and Democrats shouldn’t either.

Olberman has the constitutional right to say what ever he wants, to be as outrageous as he thinks he needs to be to draw ratings to make money for the investors at MSNBC. But for everyone who defends Olberman, remember Rush Limbaugh has exactly the same constitutional right. In the end they’re both doing the same thing … using their opinion to draw the largest possible audience so the advertisers on their shows will spend money and they can make big piles of money.

On that score, at least, I think, Limbaugh is winning.

But Lenny Curry the “Worst Person In The World”?

That’s a stretch even for Keith. And if he’d have done the least little bit of legwork, he’d know it too.



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Filed under Live Radio, Local Issues, Local Radio, Politics, Republican Party, Thoughts

A Parade Of Republicans

Andie and I went this evening to a meeting of the newly-chartered First Coast Republican Club, meeting every 4th Monday at Casa Marina in Jacksonville Beach, and tonight’s gathering featured pretty much an all-star lineup of elected officials and candidates.

The danger of this is that I’m sure I’ll miss somebody, but let me see if I can hit the highlights.

GOP elephant 17th district Representative Lake Ray was the keynote speaker. Representative Ray spoke at Tiger Bay last Friday along with Mike Weinstein, but tonight’s presentation was more partisan. Given the audience, that’s not unexpected. At Tiger Bay, he talked a lot about the way things work in the State House of Representatives. It was a very enlightening talk, in my opinion, but I’ve always enjoyed that kind of “inside baseball” stuff. Tonight’s talk was about accountability … on the part of the legislature, individuals, and particularly schools. With 54 percent of the state budget allocated to education … no that’s not a typo … 54 percent, Ray says there is not enough accountability on the part of students, parents, teachers, or administrators. And that’s across the spectrum from grade school through post-secondary. He talked about the reported cuts in education funding being spin … that the legislature actually allocated MORE money per student than in past years, but that the exodus of people from the state meant fewer students in school. The funding formula is calculated on a per-student basis, so while the bottom line might be that there is less money overall being spent, there is actually more being spent per student. But that’s not the way it’s portrayed.

senate 8 Three of the four candidates seeking Jim King’s 8th district senate seat came to the meeting. Art Graham. Dan Quiggle, and Aaron Bean all spoke to the club. I won’t try to summarize each candidates’ position, but it was the first time in the campaign that I’ve seen three of the four at the same venue. I’m hoping for many more opportunities to see them all.

13th District City Council Candidate Richard Pait was next on the list. Pait is a band director/teacher, but at which school he didn’t say, and I can’t find it on his Facebook page, either. Accountability was his major theme in his short presentation as well.

Finally, we heard from Fred Lee, currently a Neptune Beach Councilman running for school board. Again, it was accountability on the part of the school administration that was the gist of his speech.

Now, I know what you may be thinking. “Tom,” I hear you cry, “you’re a journalist. How can you attend a Republican Club meeting?” To which I would answer right now, I’m a writer. Even so, my political affiliation has no bearing on my ability to report fairly. It’s pretty well known that Tim Russert worked for Democrats before taking the reigns of Meet the Press. Russert was an aide for Senator Moynahan of New York. I don’t think anybody questioned his ability to be fair because of his politics. It can be checked at the door, when need be. But for now, it doesn’t need be. In the WJCT newsroom, we all pretty much knew everybody else’s leanings, but nobody let it get in the way of reporting a story fairly. Journalists are people, and we’re all allowed to have our affiliations like anyone else. Would I have attended such a meeting when I was actively involved in daily news gathering? Well, no. But right now, that’s not an issue, and it’s a great way for me to stay involved.

But I digress.

The meeting was interrupted several times by a wild thunderstorm that blew up. Power fluctuations caused the Casa Marina fire alarm to go off several times. But that didn’t dampen the enthusiasm of the people attending. If the momentum continues, it could be a very successful endeavor.

We’ll see.



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Filed under Beach Living, Republican Party, Thoughts