Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Now that I've met him, here's some more thoughts on Rick Scott

Kudos to the Orange County Republican Executive Committee yesterday on a great Republican Unity Rally yesterday.  It was great to see so many local elected officials, candidates, party activists, volunteers, and supporters.  The room was packed, standing room only.  After talking with my friends who set out the chairs we estimated the crowd at 275-300 people.  

It was great to see incoming Speaker of the House Dean Cannon and Senate President Mike Haridopolos speak so eloquently about party unity and their sincere and honest acknowledgment of Rick Scott's primary victory.

Here's part of Haridopolos' statement to Fox 35 News last night:
[Rick Scott] has done a really good job of focusing on what's most important - creating jobs and opportunities in this state.  He's got a track record of creating jobs, high quality jobs, and that's what we're focused on.

...[T[he Republican Party is unified - Jeb Bush, myself, Dean Cannon, we've all rallied behind Rick Scott.  The voters have spoken, they want Rick Scott to be the Republican nominee, [and] I strongly support him.

...Jeb Bush, the incoming Speaker, the incoming [Florida Senate] President, the party chairman John Thrasher, we're all rallying behind Rick Scott because the voters matter, they're the ones who are the ultimate endorsement.
Well said, Senator.  I strongly believe that one of the major challenges facing RPOF (as well as the Republican Party nationally) stems from a failure to remember that the voters are the ones who matter.  Jim Greer is now 0 for 3 in getting his chosen statewide candidates across the finish line, as his attempts to clear the fields for Bill McCollum, Jeff Kottkamp, and most spectacularly Charlie Crist, have all fallen short.  

As for Scott himself, he gave a warm and heartfelt talk thanking everyone for their support, and pledging dedication to the conservative ideals that Republicans all share.  This was the first time I saw him speak in person, and I'm not easily impressed by politicians,  can smell a canned speech from a million miles away, but it was a solid speech.  He received a lot of applause and even several standing ovations.  

Keep in mind that Orange County is McCollum's home turf.  There were a lot of people in the room that were not just McCollum supporters, but personal friends with Bill and Ingrid.  Scott was respectful of the situation and gracious in his victory.  I believe Scott's positive speech last night went a long way towards speeding up the healing process and unifying the party.

Here's a photo from Scott's speech, with former Governor Martinez, Haridopolos, Cannon, Daniel Webster, and Sandy Adams behind him, and his wife Ann by his side:

After the speech, I had the opportunity to meet Scott, as well as his charming wife Ann.  In person, Scott is warm and genuine, gave me a solid handshake, looked me in the eye, asked my name and thanked me for my support.  Also, in real life he looks a lot less like Voldemort. ;)  Seriously, though, he really does seem to have a natural and charming friendliness about him and a sincere belief in conservative issues.

I think the Democrats are vastly underestimating Rick Scott.  I can't think of anything new Alex Sink can throw at him that McCollum and his backers didn't already try.  It will be very hard to get the voters' attention with the same old message that they didn't seem to buy during the primary.

As I said a few days ago, I'm in the process of reading through Scott's platform and I really like what I'm seeing.  There's a common-sense practicality to his approach to issues that I find refreshing.  You can read for yourself on the "Issues" section of his website.

I must admit too that I really like the idea of an elected official that doesn't owe a darn thing to any of the typical power brokers, isn't held hostage by the media, isn't in debt to the party structure, and is absolutely independent of the lobbyists and special interests.  

Mike Thomas of the Orlando Sentinel summed up Rick Scott's independence well in his commentary in Sunday's paper, noting that "Scott's appeal is based on his separation from the corrupt, rusting machinery of political parties and special-interest groups:"
For those of us in the media, the worrisome thing about Scott...is that he has completely dissed us at a time when we are feeling very insecure about our role as major players.

He treats us like
Tiger Woods treats golf reporters.

He doesn't answer our questions or take our advice.

He doesn't pay homage to our editorial boards.

He just blows us off and buys another round of ads.

And it's working. Thirty seconds on "Dancing with the Stars" trumps 30 pages of media rants.

Meanwhile, the guy who played by our rules,
Bill McCollum, lost.

Every major newspaper endorsed McCollum, and he lost.

That raises a very disturbing question. What if the other politicians see this and think, "Hey, maybe he's on to something.''

By no means are we the only Lilliputians exposed by Scott.

He treats
Republican Party bosses with equal disdain because they are Exhibit A in his crusade against career politicians. They threw every dime and every endorsement at their favorite career politician. And he lost.

Even worse,
Jeb Bush campaigned for McCollum. And he lost. Losing a Republican primary with Jeb's endorsement is like being rejected at the pearly gates when you arrive arm in arm with St. Peter.

The Republican special interests turned their backs on Scott — the social conservatives, the business interests, even Big Sugar.

...The fear of a renegade candidate is eclipsed only by the fear of a renegade governor.
The next few months will show whether Rick Scott really deserves the "renegade'" moniker (I must admit I am having reluctant flashbacks to the overuse of "maverick" during McCain's train wreck of a campaign in 2008) but I've got a pretty good feeling about his chances for success in November.  

One thing is certain: politics in the Sunshine State is guaranteed to continue to be interesting for quite a while...

UPDATE: Frank Torres, once again, took great pictures at last night's event...and his commentary is not to be missed.  Check out his blog here.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Reminder: Republican Unity Rally tonight

Don't forget, tonight at 5:30 pm at the Marks Street Senior Center, our local Republican Unity Rally.  Click on link for details about tonight's event, and tomorrow's events in Miami and Jacksonville.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Republican Unity Rallies

Republican Unity Rally
Monday, August 30, 5:30 pm
Mark Street Senior Center
99 East Marks Street
Orlando, FL 32801

Join our Republican nominees Rick Scott, Daniel Webster, Sandy Adams and others as we prepare for victory in November! UPDATE: and also Marco Rubio!

Rick Scott is also traveling around the state on a unity tour with Senate President Mike Haridopolos and Speaker of the House Dean Cannon for the next few days.  Here are some locations in other cities:
Monday, August 30, 1:30 pm
Tampa Jet Center
4751 Jim Walter Blvd.

Tuesday, August 31st, 11:30 am
Sweetwater Youth Center
250 SW 114th Ave.

Tuesday, August 31st, 7:00 pm
Republican Party of Duval office
4963 Beach Blvd.

When you're holding a hammer, everything looks like a nail

I'm not much for country music, but this is pretty fun:

Apparently the writer of this song was a middle school teacher and coach, who was fired after emailing this song to friends, fellow teachers, and some parents from his personal account.  Sigh, another nail in the coffin for the First Amendment.

THIS guy is our Commander in Chief?

You have got to be kidding me.

Seriously, people.  This guy, wearing mom jeans and riding a girl's bicycle, is in charge of the greatest military in the world:


(Hat tip: Moonbattery)

Friday, August 27, 2010

Four Words: Why Republicans must rally behind Rick Scott

I have supported Bill McCollum for years, as I know many of you have, especially my Central Florida readers.  I endorsed him and voted for him on Tuesday.  I sympathize with the feelings of many of our local Republicans, who are not yet enthusiastic about Rick Scott.

I felt comfortable enough with my support of McCollum that, honest disclosure, I did not take the time to analyze Scott's platform and ideas in detail.  I am making up for that now, and I am liking what I am seeing.  I'll do a more detailed write-up of Rick Scott later, but here are four words why all conservatives need to join me on the Rick Scott bandwagon and support our Republican nominee:

Veto Power

These four words are all powers that the Governor holds or has a great deal of control over, and powers that we would be granting to a Democrat if we fail to support Scott.  

The Governor makes literally thousands of appointments every year, everything from judges (local all the way to the Florida Supreme Court), to heads of agencies, to filling vacancies, as Crist did recently appointing Lui Damiani to Mildred Fernandez's Orange County Commission seat.  The Damiani appointment was stressful enough, considering Crist's current status as an independent Senate candidate; many people, including myself, were wondering if he would appoint a Democrat like Scott Randolph in an effort to court Democrat votes.  If Alex Sink is governor, the question won't be will she appoint a Democrat, but how liberal will that Democrat be? 

Redistricting is a highly complex and politically-charged process.  The Governor has the power to control the selection of some of the people who will be the decision makers and other ways to influence the process.  I honestly think legitimate arguments can be made for reforming the process in a way that removes some of the politics, but electing a Democrat Governor is not the way to do it...that would not do a darn thing to reduce political influences, it would just give the Democrats control over part of the process, and make it a more bitterly fought partisan battle.

The power of the Governor's veto pen is self-explanatory - overriding that veto requires additional votes, and therefore concessions to Democratic positions.  As Attorney General, Bill McCollum is leading the fight in court against Obamacare, and Rick Scott has been a loud and dedicated opponent to government takeover of our healthcare system for years.  We can be comfortable that Scott would continue to fight for the rights of Floridians to control their own healthcare, but Sink has expressed support for Obamacare.  What happens to the health care litigation if she is elected?

I truly believe that once a few more days pass to alleviate the pain from Tuesday's loss, McCollum himself will realize that he is not helping the party he has faithfully served for decades by withholding his support for Scott.  Republicans are doing Bill McCollum no favors by voting for Alex Sink; it does not show him any special loyalty or help him in any future political goals.  I would argue that electing a Democrat Governor is a betrayal of McCollum, because it would allow the Democrats to unravel many of the conservative initiatives for which McCollum has worked so hard.

Join me on the Rick Scott bandwagon: 

Official campaign website
Scott for Florida Facebook Page
Scott for Florida on Twitter
Scott for Florida on YouTube

Republicans, please remember these four words: appointments, redistricting, veto power, and vote for Rick Scott on November 2nd.

New web ad from Marco Rubio: Who Cares?

Hat tip to SaintPetersblog:
The moment Charlie Crist said “Who cares?” when talking about who he will caucus with, I cringed in disgust. I guess Charlie really doesn’t care that, in a nutshell, the fate of the free world depends on who wins Florida’s US Senate seat, at least that is what Nate Silver implies in his new projections that show Democratic control of the United States Senate will rely on whether Crist wins and if he will caucus with the Democrats.
In other words, Charlie, there’s a lot of people who care about which party you caucus with.

"Who cares," Charlie?  "Who cares?!?!"

The people of Florida care, that's who.
I've said it before, I'll say it again: any Republican who still thinks they can trust Charlie Crist needs to get their head checked.  And any Democrat who thinks he'll be loyal to their causes needs to do the same.  

Charlie Crist is looking out for Charlie Crist, period.  He is on your side only as long as the wind is blowing your way and your checkbook is out.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Interesting Nov. 2009 article about Alan Grayson

An interesting article about Alan Grayson from last November...do you think it's still a valid analysis?

Grayson's problems, from what I can tell, include an exaggerated sense of his intellect to cover up some self-esteem issues and a misguided belief that voters supported him because they actually liked him...

...Note that the Congressman isn't merely fighting for what he believes to be right, or that he is trying to work with others to improve things. His side stands for right, while the other side is wrong.

...Grayson clearly has some issues with who he is and where he came from. And that shows, not only in his bio but also with the way he deals with those who may disagree with him.

Grayson was elected to Congress not because of who he is and was, but because he wasn't Ric Keller, the incumbent Republican. The challenger won because of a big Democratic wave in a competitive but Republican-leaning district that President George W. Bush won with 55 percent in 2004. Barack Obama carried it with 52 percent last year - roughly the same showing as Grayson. The district's Democratic Performance Index is only 44 percent, making it a difficult district for any Democrat in a normal year.

Keller, of course, had a shockingly close 53 percent to 47 percent primary win about 10 weeks before last year's general election, a sure sign of his problems in the district. And Grayson outspent Keller by almost 2-to-1, $3.21 million to $1.77 million, in the race.

It was his money and the mood for change that made Grayson a winner, not the public's affection or admiration for him.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Thoughts on the primary results (UPDATED)

I woke up this morning with some of the strongest conflicted feelings I can remember after an election.  Extremely happy about some races, accepting of the results in others, and heartbroken over a few.  Here's some of my thoughts... 


OMG we elected Voldemort.

Seriously though, readers of this site know I was supporting Bill McCollum.  Many of us in Central Florida have known McCollum for years.  He was never very flashy but I was impressed with his anti-gang task force and work fighting against consumer fraud and internet predators.  This race frustrated me immensely because Rick Scott's negative campaigning included so many exaggerations and, in my opinion, misrepresentations.  To claim that McCollum was implicit in the whole Jim Greer debacle was beyond misleading, considering that McCollum was one of the people pushing Greer out of the RPOF chairman's position, and even those recorded phone calls between Greer and Delmar Johnson showed Greer viewed McCollum as an adversary, not an ally.  

I also am hesitant about the idea that our elections are for sale.  There isn't a single person out there who believes Scott would have been taking a photo with confetti raining down on his shiny head if not for the $50 million he invested in his TV and direct mail blitzkrieg campaign.  Here's just a little something fun I made this afternoon as I was thinking about the race (click image for full-size view):
All uses of ebay and RPOF trademarks are for parody or satirical purposes.
It's just a joke, people.

Bottom line, Bill and Ingrid McCollum are good people who have done a lot for our state and the Republican Party, and I am honored to have been able to get to know them and to have voted for Bill McCollum this year.  I really believe he was a better candidate and would have had an easier time beating Alex Sink.

That being said, there is no way I am going to support Alex Sink, and I encourage all other Republicans to hop on the Scott bandwagon with me now.  Do it for these two reasons: the Governor's veto power can block many legislative efforts, and the influence over the redistricting process.  I was hesitant on Scott before because he has very little track record to know what to expect from him, but can only continue to hope that he will stick to his conservative campaign promises and be a good leader for our state and our party. 


There will be a runoff in District 4, but Jennifer Thompson seems to have a substantial lead.  She has worked very hard in this race and has been knocking on doors and meeting with district residents for several years now.  She has shown she is willing to spend time to do the research and fully understand the issues, and I believe she will be an asset for the County Commission, and a great representative for the people of Orange County.  I congratulate her on the job well done so far and predict a solid victory in November. 


Very happy to see Jason Brodeur get the "W" last night.  Beyond just supporting a fellow Gator, I've known Jason for years through his work with the Young Republicans and have always found him to be a stand-up guy.  Say what you want about Seminole County politics, anyone who knows Jason knows what kind of person he is.  Hopefully he will prevail in November, and I look forward to seeing him in Tallahassee. 


Very, very happy to see John Horan victorious last night.  Nothing personal against McLean, as I've said, I've only met the guy once and he seems friendly enough, but I've known Horan since 2002 and know him to be smart, ethical, honest, a dedicated conservative, and just all-around good guy.  

I know the campaign spent a lot of time and effort doing the grassroots work, and looks like it paid off - I heard that he won every precinct where the campaign walked.  I called last night to congratulate him and he was so happy and humbly appreciative of the community support.  This is a guy who really cares about Seminole County and I think he'll do a great job on the Commission. 

MORE COMMENTS COMING LATER...I know which races I've left out...don't worry...will update post soon... 

OK, here's an update... 


I was pleased to see Rand Wallis and Michael Rudisill re-elected to the bench.  In my opinion, if a judge hasn't done anything unethical, then that judge should be retained.  There is an unfortunate practice of running against judges to settle a grudge, prove a point, or, in one race a few years ago, to get revenge against the judge for unfavorable rulings.  A judge is not supposed to worry about being popular, but only about being fair, honest, fair, ethical, fair, unbiased, and did I mention, FAIR.  The role of the judge is to review the facts and evidence, apply the law consistently, and make a ruling based on that.

It is completely ridiculous that Judge Clayton Simmons even drew an opponent, much less was defeated yesterday.  He is so well-respected in the legal community and has done a wonderful job during his years on the bench. Simmons' son was campaigning at the same precinct in Oviedo with me yesterday and was working so hard for his dad, my heart is just breaking for their family.  I do not know Linda Schoonover, I've never met her, but she made some disparaging comments about Simmons on her website, quoting a Sentinel article to insinuate he had done something improper.  Not true...and so disappointing to see a judicial candidate engage in that kind of behavior.

Regarding the Group 5 County Court race, I am so proud of Amir Ladan and all our wonderful volunteers who gave countless hours walking neighborhoods, phone banking, and surviving Tuesday's downpour to campaign at the precincts.  I really loved working with Amir's family too, and feel honored that I got to be a part of their lives these past few months.  Amir's dad has such an inspirational story, and mom Zelda is just so awesome, I don't have words for it.  His wife, Trish, was such a dedicated supporter of her husband, and daughter Ashley is so darn sweet, and asked such neat questions about the elections process.  She asked me last night when we would know the results, and when I told her that her daddy had lost but could run again sometime, her response was "well, maybe not right away.  I like having him at home."  So cute.

Amir was a first time candidate battling against opponents with better name ID and the ability to self-finance their campaigns, but he worked very hard and ran a positive ethical campaign.  I am disappointed in one of the opponent's negative mail, and disgusted with some of the ugly attempts to spread false rumors by certain people.  I believe very strongly that Amir was the most qualified for the seat, and that he will go on to one day soon wear those black robes.

In general, I am left feeling extremely dissatisfied with judicial elections.  There are so many restrictions on what events the candidates can attend, what they can say, what they can do, that it just exacerbates the confusion and disinterest most people have for the judiciary.  It is extremely challenging for a judicial candidate to get their message to the voters, and it seems the only way to do it is to throw a big pile of money around.  Mike Thomas summed it up well in a blog post earlier discussing his predictions right before the polls closed:
Various judge races: Who knows? Who cares? You know, we shouldn’t elect judges. I think it is a very dangerous thing. I think if I had $100,000 I could become a judge.
Sigh...sad thing is, it's pretty true.  Drop $100K in a campaign account, and unless there are photos out there of you kicking a puppy or engaged in some sort of odd sexual fetish, you can probably get elected judge.   


I voted for Kurt Kelly, but I have no problem with Dan Webster.  If he had gotten in the race earlier, I would have happily endorsed him out of the gate.  My hesitation was due to his hesitation in getting in the race.  Other candidates, notably Kelly and O'Donoghue, sacrificed a lot to get into the race because Webster had not jumped in: took a financial hit on their businesses, time away from their families, enduring the glare of the media spotlight, and Kelly gave up his State House seat, which was considered a safe bet for reelection.

Still, Dan Webster has an established conservative track record.  We know what we are getting with him, and I am confident that he would continue that same great record in Washington.  I am happy to officially endorse him today and will be voting for him in November without reservation.  I believe he will be a great replacement for our train wreck of a congressional representative, Alan Grayson.


I am just devastated and heartbroken about this race, and still shocked and horrified over the desperate and unethical way that Craig Miller ran his campaign.  The ridiculous and repetitive misrepresentations about Karen Diebel's record were one thing, but his last minute mailer full of lies and personal attacks from the vicious liberals Beth Dillaha and Margie Bridges was a new low.  I have never been so disappointed and disgusted in a [so-called] Republican candidate.  

All the information and feedback I'm getting is that the mailer did not help Miller at all, but did throw enough mud and confusion around that Sandy Adams was able to just stand by and reap the benefit of seeming above the fray.  I am somewhat gratified to see Miller come in third.  I do hope that the Adams campaign sends Miller a nice thank you note for knocking Karen out of Sandy's way.

Mark my words, today's simpering endorsement of Adams is the last we'll hear of Craig Miller.  We never heard a peep from him before this race, and I will faint and fall to the ground if he actually gets out there and works for Adams or any other Republican candidate, or does anything for the party other than maybe writing a check.

I am extremely proud of Karen Diebel and the wonderful team that worked on her campaign.  It was a privilege and an honor to work with these dedicated conservatives and downright fun people.  I've gained some treasured new friends through this campaign, and will always respect Karen for her strength in the face of adversity, her genuine kindness, her focus on her goals, her respect for other people.  I am honored to call her a friend.

Some have questioned Karen's delay in endorsing Sandy Adams.  Let's all calm down and not lose our minds over a few hours.  The sole and only reason for the delay was that the campaign was getting reports from the Orange SOE and I think the Brevard one too that there were some factors present that might trigger the statutorily required automatic recount.  No one was making any accusations of fraud or improper activity related to the election and there was never any discussion about filing suit or otherwise following in sore loser Al Gore's footsteps.  There was just simply an extremely close race and a desire to let the system work as it is supposed to.

Earlier today, the Diebel campaign issued the following press release, congratulating Sandy Adams and wishing her the best in the effort to take District 24 back from Kosmas:
For Immediate Release
August 25, 2010
Former Winter Park Vice-Mayor, businesswoman, and former candidate for US Congress District 24, Karen Diebel congratulates Sandy Adams on winning the Republican nomination for Congress.
“I will never stop championing the values I fought for in this campaign – border security, lower taxes, the right to life, and market-based solutions to our health care system. The first step in the battle is unseating liberal Suzanne Kosmas and restoring conservative representation to our district. Throughout the next couple of months, I will support Sandy in her efforts to take back this seat,” said Diebel.
Diebel, whose campaign came within one percentage point of victory, is very appreciative of all those who supported her throughout the past year.
“This campaign was a hard-fought effort and one that we can all be proud of. I want to thank my family, friends, staff, and volunteers for their love and support and dedicating countless hours to our effort. I also want to thank the many conservative leaders who stood strongly behind our campaign, especially Gov. Mike Huckabee, Bay Buchanan, Congressman Dick Schulze, Winter Park Mayor Ken Bradley, Mat Staver, and Concerned Women for America PAC,” Diebel concluded.


Left this one for last because I really wanted to end on a happy note.  In case you missed it, here are the results in this race:

Teresa Jacobs - 42%
Bill Segal - 23%
Linda Stewart - 19%
Matthew Falconer  - 15%

...leaving Jacobs and Segal in the runoff for November.  Oh yeah, and Matt Falconer dead last.  I'm glad to see that the people of Orange County were smart enough to not fall for Falconer's outlandish ideas, personal attacks on his opponents, and constant lies.  

Contrast Falconer with Linda Stewart, who should be proud of herself for running a positive and ethical campaign where she was vastly outmatched financially.  I disagree with many of her political positions, but she is a nice person and her grassroots campaigning was impressive.

The strong finish for Jacobs, a Republican, indicates voters accepted her as a reformer and fiscal conservative in the campaign.
She overcame the nearly $1 million raised and spent by Segal and outside business groups backing his campaign. Jacobs said her strong support showed that the "hearts and minds and votes" of Orange residents "cannot be bought."

"I don't think you can buy passion and commitment," said Jacobs, who spent $217,000 on her campaign.

The article also mentions some petty sour grapes from Falconer, who stated that he would not endorse Jacobs or Segal.  Apparently he's still believing that he was "the only conservative in the race!"

I spoke to Teresa's husband Bruce earlier today and they are both so thrilled and humbled by how many people voted for Teresa and have continued to support her during the campaign.  She is so happy and ready to continue the fight all the way to November.  Teresa and her daughter Lisa waved signs this morning at the corner of Curry Ford and 436:

Teresa's sign says "Thank You" (click to enlarge)
Bill Segal's campaign sent out an email earlier today, wasting no time in attacking Teresa, saying that voters had a choice between Segal or "a lobbyist who ran to the far-right to rally social conservatives to her cause."  C'mon, Bill, you're better than that.  You know darn well that's not accurate.  As I wrote last Friday:
Let's be clear.  Teresa Jacobs has never been a lobbyist.  She's also never been a Olympic synchronized swimmer or a ninja or a pomegranate whatever other silly things one could imagine.  
And I just simply have not seen any "running to the far-right to rally social conservatives."  The only time Teresa addressed any of those kind of issues was to speak out against Matthew Falconer's lies that she was a liberal and pro-abortion.  Teresa did not proselytize on the topic, merely pointed out that her personal beliefs are pro-life.  I think a dose of reality is needed here...abortion is simply not an issue that county commissions would be expected to address or have power or influence over.  There is no need to worry that she would turn the Orange County Commission into some sort of vehicle for social conservative crusades. 

Teresa Jacobs ran a great campaign and her large margin of victory shows she has great name ID and high popularity in our community.  I am looking forward to continuing to support her campaign and cheer her to victory in November.    

Monday, August 23, 2010

Why is Craig Miller quoting liberals to attack Karen Diebel?

Craig Miller seems to be running in the wrong primary.  He claims to be a Republican but doesn't seem to understand the lingo.  Voters will forgive a candidate for doing something silly in college, but Republicans have a hard time understanding someone who claims to be a conservative but less than five years ago was advocating against strict enforcement of our immigration laws and lobbying for pro-amnesty causes.  Even his superficial attempt at Facebook campaigning backfired on him.

I've listened to Miller speak at several events and looked over his campaign materials.  He seems to be able to spit out some sound bites, but I have yet to hear any specific details, any specific proposals for reform, any specific ideas period.  Even his TV ads just spit out proclamations that Miller is "pro-life!" "pro-Second Amendment!"  

"Yep, I'm a Republican, I swear!  Take my word for it, you can trust me, I promise!"

And that's when he bothers to show up.  There have been a number of community forums and debates where Miller has been mysteriously absent or canceled at the last minute.  

Now, in one of the nastiest and most despicable negative attacks I've ever seen, Miller has sent out an 11th-hour attack ad against Karen Diebel.  In it, Miller takes several news articles out of context, misrepresents their content and then quotes several liberals.
Longtime Winter Park resident Pete Weldon has written a very detailed critique of the Miller attack here:

Karen Diebel, former Winter Park Vice Mayor and candidate for US House Seat in Florida District 24, believes in individual freedom, individual responsibility, smaller government, and financial restraint. I am a supporter.

Craig Miller, an opponent of Diebel’s in the Republican primary for the District 24 US House seat, along with former and current Winter Park city commission members Margie Bridges and Beth Dillaha, believe in character assassination and personal vendettas.

Miller mailed a letter to District 24 voters written by Bridges and Dillaha. The authors know this letter contains false and misleading claims about Diebel.

The fact is that Diebel voted repeatedly to lower the property tax rate and to reduce spending in Winter Park while building reserves during her service from 2007 to 2010. Bridges and Dillaha both voted to increase the 2009 property tax rate over Diebel’s objection (see page 9 here) and both voted to maintain the property tax rate for 2010, again over Diebel’s objection and desire to reduce the rate (see page 12 here). During Diebel’s tenure on the Winter Park commission and with her support the property tax rate was reduced by 14% and annual general fund spending declined by almost 6%.

Bridges and Dillaha knowingly misstate the facts about several events in claiming that Diebel is a spender and not a true conservative.

The former city manager had a sweetheart deal with a prior city commission that made it more and more expensive to terminate him the longer he stayed around, even though the city Charter requires that the city manager serve at the pleasure of the commission. Following his termination the former city manager sued Winter Park for even more money and Dillaha supported a settlement of $490,000 that is included in the total cost she now criticizes Diebel for (see page 2 here).

Bridges and Dillaha are anti-commuter rail activists who criticize anyone who supports this infrastructure investment and their claims about the existing Winter Park commuter rail agreement with Orange County are false. (Learn more here.)

The Bridges and Dillaha claim about buying out developers is the most outrageous hypocrisy. A settlement was paid as a direct result of the actions of Bridges, Dillaha and their political supporters for they were responsible for stopping the Carlisle project in Winter Park resulting in the developers suing the city. The settlement was paid to avoid a $25,000,000 liability for Winter Park taxpayers that was created by Bridges and Dillaha. You may also wish to know that Bridges voted for the settlement (see page 4 here).
  • That Craig Miller would participate in character assassination says a lot about his qualifications for the US House seat from District 24.
  • That Bridges and Dillaha would knowing mislead District 24 voters and refer to themselves as “honorable” five times in their letter is both a disgrace and an insult to the character and quality of the people of Winter Park.
Regards, Pete Weldon
I agree wholeheartedly with Weldon's analysis.  Dillaha and Bridges are two of the biggest tax-and-spend liberals to ever serve on the Winter Park City Commission.  Their verdict on who is a "fiscal conservative" is as credible as asking a Red Sox fan for a character reference for a member Yankees' starting lineup.

Karen Diebel defeated Beth Dillaha in her first election to the Winter Park City Commission, and then Dillaha was elected to the commission during the next year's election.  During the entire time Diebel and Dillaha served together, every time Diebel voted to cut taxes or cut spending, Dillaha voted the other way.  

Dillaha fought bitterly against Diebel's work to pay down some of Winter Park's debt, a very fiscally responsible move, as the heavy debt load had led to the city's bond rating being downgraded.  After the city's debt was reduced, and the bond rating restored, this resulted in a lower interest rate for the remaining debt.  Diebel fought to return those funds to the taxpayers in the form of further tax cuts, while Dillaha viewed it as "free money" and sought to spend it on her pet projects.  Fortunately for the taxpaying citizens of Winter Park, Diebel won that battle too.  More on Beth Dillaha here.

Let's also remember the very contentious Winter Park mayor's race in March 2009.  The liberals like Bridges and Dillaha were backing the then-mayor, a Democrat, David Strong.  Karen Diebel supported and openly endorsed Kenneth Bradley, a Republican (who I also supported).  The election was close and bitterly fought, but Bradley prevailed.  Now Diebel had another ally to vote for lower taxes with her.  Beth Dillaha owes her first election to David Strong's financial contribution and was a vocal opponent of Bradley, and Bridges has received David Strong's support as well.

The rest of Dillaha and Bridges' criticisms of Diebel can be easily dismissed as sour grapes, distortions, misrepresentations, or flat out lies.  The charge that Diebel had "poor attendance" is one of these lies.  Diebel had a perfect or nearly perfect (I'm sorry I  don't have time to read through all the meeting minutes right now) record of attendance at City Commission meetings.  Dillaha also has a habit of wasting taxpayer money and everyone's time by calling endless "workshop" meetings, which are really nothing more than her attempts to browbeat her fellow commissioners into voting with her, or to drum up community support for her latest big spending idea.  Diebel also had an excellent attendance record at all these workshops. 

So what the heck does the charge of "poor attendance" mean?  The only specific thing Dillaha has said on the subject relates to community events and association meetings, which city commissioners are commonly invited but not required to attend.  Well, not to overplay the whole "oh woe is me" card, but let's remember Karen Diebel has been raising her three sons by herself after her husband died, while holding down a fulltime job as an executive with Verizon.  After Dr. Diebel was killed in that accident, someone had to support her family.  I think we can forgive Karen Diebel for skipping a few garden club or society events, do you?

Regarding the rest of the salacious and malicious gossip on the mailer, the so-called quote from the Orlando Sentinel is actually a quote from Eric Jotkoff, who is the press secretary for the Florida Democratic Party.  Yeah, that's credible.  I refer you to my earlier example of asking Red Sox fans for opinions about the Yankees.  The RedState article is taken out of context again - Erick Erickson has already gone on record criticizing Miller's attacks on Diebel and stating that he does not believe this nonsense.  As for the Orlando Weekly, well, to call that rag "liberal" would be the understatement of the year.  The Orlando Weekly makes the New York Times opinion page look like Rush Limbaugh's newsletter.

Finally, regarding all the other false and nasty lies referenced in this mailer, that anonymous internet bloggers like to repeat, let me just say this: unlike all the little haters blogging at home (or as I suspect, from the campaign offices of DIebel's opponents), I actually know Karen Diebel.

I know Karen well.  I met her well over a year ago, when I heard she was running for Congress.  Impressed with her reputation on the Winter Park City Commission, I called her up and scheduled a lunch with her.  Within ten minutes, I remember thinking to myself that I was pretty sure I would end up supporting her.  By the end of the lunch, I was completely sold.   

Karen is very intelligent and extremely knowledgeable on technology and economic issues; I've teased her a few times about her "nerdy" side.  She is passionate about conservative causes and really means it when she pledges to be "not just a vote, but a voice" advocating for these issues.  She is kind and gracious to everyone, even people who are not supporting her.  I've seen her greet people wearing shirts with her opponent's name just as warmly as anyone else. 

I have spent a lot of time with Karen, especially after joining the campaign in the past month.  I have seen her first thing in the morning as we drove along with the rising sun for a 7:00 a.m. radio appearance in Titusville.  I have seen her late at night while the campaign team is discussing strategy.  I have gotten to know her parents, her brother, and her wonderful sons...I don't think it's fair to always blame the parents when a kid goes bad, but when you look at Karen's smart, well-mannered, friendly sons, you know she has really done well raising them.  I've gotten to know countless number of Karen's friends.  I have seen her speaking at large events, at numerous debates and candidate forums, at every kind of radio program from Christian radio, to the fast pace of local political talk radio, to several appearances on our local Hispanic radio programs.  You can tell a lot about a person from how they act around their friends and family, how they act when the cameras are off and the public isn't around, in their "down time." 

Let me say this again: I know Karen Diebel.  And  this is what I know about her: she is smart, is warm and genuine to everyone she meets, has a great sense of humor, has done a wonderful job raising her sons, has an excellent business background, and is the only candidate in this race with an established record of actually shrinking the size of government.  I would not be such an enthusiastic supporter of Karen Diebel if she were not a worthy person and the absolute best choice for District 24.  The junk out there on the internet is just that, junk.  If any of the people writing that stuff actually sat down and talked with Karen Diebel, they would not write such false and hateful things.

So, basically, Craig Miller has nothing but meaningless sound bites and a questionable pro-amnesty history, and then quotes a bunch of Democrats and liberals to attack Karen Diebel.  Makes you wonder, if he thinks all these liberals are great sources of information, maybe he is in the wrong party?  Miller wants to tear apart Karen Diebel's record of cutting taxes, cutting spending, and reducing the size of government, but what can he show us?  Two restaurant companies, Pizzeria Uno and Ruth's Chris Steakhouse, that were both in significantly worse shape when he left them then when he was hired.  Ruth's Chris even fired him as CEO after watching their stock tank due in no small part to Miller's fiscal irresponsibility. 

I remind my readers of another candidate who claimed to be a "good conservative" and "Republican," who offered great sound bites but had trouble with specifics:

UPDATE: NRCC Chairman Pete Sessions has strongly denounced Craig Miller's nasty attacks.  See the Politico article here:

Sessions: "Sick to my stomach" over Miller Attacks
“I am distressed and concerned anytime we have Republicans attack one another,” Sessions told POLITICO Monday, warning GOP campaigns from leveling attacks that were not grounded in facts. “It makes me sick to my stomach.”
...[Sessions] said he wanted to send a clear signal to GOP candidates across the country to play by the rules.

Sessions pointed out that the Miller mail item excerpted a quote from another Orlando Sentinel article...without acknowledging the statement came from a Florida Democratic Party spokesman

“When Republicans attack Republicans on a personal basis, they should do so with a clear understanding of the facts of the case and should not include a Democratic Party official attacking another Republican,” he said. “I’m asking anyone who runs an attack to back up and remember the arguments.”

Comparison in Seminole County Court Judicial race

I am writing this on my own behalf, as my own personal opinion, and not representing any other person or candidate...if you don't like it, blame me and only me. 

Seminole County voters have a choice in the Group 5 County Court race.  I'm not even going to pretend to be unbiased here.  Yes, I am working for the Ladan for Judge campaign, but beyond that Amir Ladan is a friend of mine.  I know him and his family well.  He is absolutely, hands down the best choice in this race and I endorse him enthusiastically and without reservation.

Unfortunately, I cannot say I do not have reservations about some of the other candidates in this race.  One candidate, Debra Krause, has far less courtroom experience than I would like to see in a judicial candidate.  The Orlando Sentinel showed a fundamental misunderstanding about what the job entails when they endorsed another candidate, Greg Hass, who has been handling real estate transactional law as in-house general counsel for a realtors' group, saying that he would bring broader experience to the position.  Well, an attorney who handles patent infringement or international mergers and acquisitions would have broader experience too, but that experience is darn near useless for County Court.

Let's take a minute and talk about what County Court judges actually do.  This position is responsible for four main types of cases: (1) misdemeanor crimes (DUI, battery, domestic violence, petty theft, driving with a suspended license, etc.); (2) domestic violence injunctions, (3) civil traffic citations, and (4) small claims (civil litigation matters under a certain dollar amount).  Categories #1-3 are about 95% of the docket, and small claims cases make up the remaining 5%.

The last few years' economic woes have created severe budget challenges for our judicial system.  The courts have seen their budgets slashed and slashed again with no relief in sight.  Now, I'm definitely a big proponent of keeping taxes low and government as small as possible, but the reality is that we will always have crime in Central Florida, and our court system has to process them one way or another.  Our system of laws and constitutionally-guaranteed protections is not cheap to run.

One way we can create efficiencies (and therefore save money) while still protecting constitutional rights is to select judges who are well-versed in the law, specifically the types of cases they will handle as a judge.  Regarding this County Court position, the best choice would be an attorney who has spent a lot of time in the courtroom, who is well-versed in specific criminal laws and procedural rules, processes for obtaining or objecting to injunctions, the issues that arise in domestic violence cases and the resources available to help victims, etc.  Real estate transactional law, workers' compensation law, international regulations regarding importing livestock...none of that is helpful for this specific judicial position.

On the topic of specifically relevant experience, please check this out from the Ladan for Judge campaign (click on image to enlarge):

I'd like to contrast the above piece with a mailer sent out by Fred Schott's campaign:

First of all, in my opinion, this type of mailer is not appropriate for a judicial race.  Judicial candidates are subject to an additional set of rules of conduct, and this mailer attempts to portray the other candidates in the race as unqualified or inexperienced, by carefully selecting categories so as to not show any check marks for the other candidates.   Fred Schott is unfortunately no stranger to making questionable comparisons as a campaign tactic.  More importantly, however, the mailer contains several inaccuracies and misrepresentations.

Going down the categories in order, Board Certification is a laudable honor, and Schott should be proud of this accomplishment, but he's not the only one who has participated in the Florida Bar's certification program.  Amir Ladan just sat for the Board Certification exam earlier this year and should have the results at the end of this month.

Next, while Schott claims to be a "small business owner for more than 15 years," Ladan founded his own law firm with his friend and fellow former prosecutor Keith Carsten over 9 years ago.  OK, 15 years is longer than 9 years, but is it really accurate to have that big shiny red check mark under Schott's name and nothing under Ladan?  

Third, Amir Ladan is also certified by the Florida Supreme Court to teach the constitution in schools and has done so.  I am not aware of any master list promulgated by the Florida Supreme Court of who has this certification, so the only way to know who has the certification is to ask directly.  Schott did not check with Ladan or the campaign to verify this information before printing the mailer, and has not yet publicly corrected this misrepresentation.

Fourth, Schott has a nice list of endorsements, many carried through from his prior attempt to run for judge in Orange County.  Schott only lists the specific people who have endorsed him, so of course no one else has a check.  That does not mean that Schott is the only one with endorsements.  Ladan also has an impressive list of endorsements, including the Ninth Judicial Circuit State Attorney and a lot of former and current prosecutors...i.e., attorneys who have worked directly with him and know his personal ethics.  Few people know an attorney better than the other attorneys who work with him.  Remember again 2008, when Schott's former law partner endorsed his opponent, without any specific explanation from the Schott campaign.  What bridges were burned so badly that that attorney would publicly denounce Schott like that?

Bottom line, Amir Ladan is the only candidate in this race who has been both a prosecutor and a defense attorney, who has spent nearly every day of his legal career in the courtroom practicing the exact type of law that he would as a judge if elected.  

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Candidates working hard for your vote

Here are a few pictures I've gathered in this past week from some of my endorsed candidates working hard to get your vote.  Some are from my Blackberry camera, others are from the candidates' Facebook pages.  Thought I'd share...

Amir Ladan is all smiles as he arrives to meet voters at one of Seminole County's early voting locations.

Karen Diebel meeting voters at the Einstein Brothers Bagels in Winter Park.  One guy at the table already voted for her! 

 Becky Erwin has been working hard and her volunteers have put approximately 43 million signs at every polling location 

Bill McCollum, campaigning last Friday afternoon on the corner of Colonial and Bumby.  I told him I already voted for him and got this thumbs up.

Diebel-Huckabee Get out the Vote Rally

Here is some video from Karen Diebel's event with Governor Mike Huckabee earlier today.

Photos from the Gov. Huckabee Get Out The Vote Rally for Karen Diebel today

It was wonderful to see Governor Huckabee today.  He is a fantastic speaker and a super-nice guy...if you ever have a chance to see him in person, I strongly encourage you to do so.

Today, Huckabee was in town for several of our Republican candidates, including Bill McCollum, and he stopped by the Get Out The Vote Rally for Karen Diebel that was held at the Life Orlando Church on Colonial Drive.  Here are some photos from the event (click on any of the images to enlarge):

Some of our volunteers getting set up to greet Governor Huckabee
Radio Host Ed Dean introducing Dan Peterson, who played some great music to kick off the event.

Welcoming Governor Huckabee on stage

Huckabee: "I consider it a privilege to be here with Karen Diebel today...I'm a Florida resident and if I lived in this district, I'd be voting for Karen Diebel!"

Karen thanking Governor Huckabee for his endorsement and support.
Karen Diebel and Governor Huckabee
Thanks to everyone who joined us today!  We had a wonderful time and I know Karen appreciates all the support.

UPDATE: I only had my Blackberry with me, so my pictures aren't the best.  Frank Torres took much better photos with his camera, and you can see them on his blog here.

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