Archive for the ‘Res Publica Blog’ Category
Commentary by GH Khan
The nonpartisan race for Mayor of St. Petersburg matters, and the time has come for conservatives of all stripes to fully and without reservation back the re-election of Bill Foster for Mayor of St. Petersburg.
That is the message emerging from a series of polls that show Foster trailing challengers Kathleen Ford and Rick Kriseman in the run-up to the August 27 St. Petersburg primary. Conservatives need to set aside their disappointments with Foster over his often folksy, rather ambiguous, and sometimes downright mushy approach to many of the issues facing our fair city. In particular, conservatives will have to overlook His Honor’s deficient leadership over issues surrounding The Pier.
This is a nonpartisan race with far-ranging consequences. The chief executive of Florida’s third-largest city has influence far beyond City Hall, and far beyond the city limits. This means that the more conservative the mayor is the more favorable the political environment will be for conservatives and their ideas, and that is why this race matters to conservatives.
It is extremely unlikely at this point that any candidate in the mayor’s race will receive the required 50% of the vote plus one to win the race in the August 27 St. Petersburg Primary, which means that there will be a November run-off between the two top vote getters. The two biggest threats to Foster’s re-election are Ford and Kriseman. The other two candidates in the race, Anthony Cates and Paul Congemi, are unlikely to have any statistically significant impact on the race. Ford and Kriseman each show stronger polling strength than Foster, and Foster will have to beat at least one of them in the primary in order to be in the running in the November election. Kriseman, an unremarkable garden-variety liberal Democrat, is seen by some as more beatable by Foster in November than remarkable progressive Democrat Ford would be, making Ford the candidate Foster must best in the primary.
To know Bill Foster is to like him. The Mayor has done a lot of good campaigning to date, and has garnered a lot of important endorsements, but there is a lot more to be done. Foster needs to shore up his base and, to the extent possible, expand his appeal to other voters. He needs to send to voters a sharp, clear message of accomplishments and the path he will take to further accomplishments in his next term. He needs to define his candidacy and the issues of the election, and not cede the initiative to his challengers to define things for him: E.g., The Pier is only one of many issues facing St. Petersburg voters, and not the most important one in this election. No more muddled, ambiguous pandering that appeals to all and satisfies none. He needs to reconnect to social conservatives of all types, and not just the local Republican hierarchy (Foster is a Republican). He badly needs to repair his relationship with St. Petersburg’s African-American community, which has a history of being very forgiving of political trespassing. He needs to raise a boatload of money and use it to saturate the available media with his improved message. Perhaps Foster also needs a new consultant, one who has an intimate understanding of the politics of The Burg and can generate a winning strategy that will get Foster through the primary and on to victory in November.
So, what’s not to like about Ford?
Kathleen Ford has unsuccessfully run for Mayor of St. Petersburg twice previously, losing the first time to Rick Baker and losing the second time to Bill Foster. She has previously served on the City Council. Ford is presently riding a wave of notoriety arising from her litigation over The Pier. This will give her an edge with many of the voters who will be voting on The Pier in the August primary. This popularity is, however, very thin and is undercut by several of Ford’s strong negatives. To know Kathleen Ford is to have strong feelings about her; indeed, one of the jokes going around town lately is that “Will Rogers never met Kathleen Ford.”* Ford has been described as being self-righteous, condescending and rude to those who disagrees with her. She also has been criticized for being reluctant to admit when she is wrong, and being given to blame others for her failings, as when in her 2009 campaign for mayor she disingenuously tried to blame her use of the racially offensive term “HNIC” on the radio host who was interviewing her when she used it. It was this insensitivity and ignorance that earned Ford condemnation from distinguished St. Petersburg Times columnist Bill Maxwell and effectively destroyed her bid for mayor that year. Her overall judgment and competency as an attorney is also questionable in light of the debacle she made of her lawsuit against the City of St. Petersburg over the closing of The Pier, in which she made an ill-fated attempt to join as “indispensable parties” in the suit the more than 15,000 persons who signed the petition to get The Pier on the August ballot.
Ford also has been accused of being self-serving, and some have opined that Ford’s initiation of this ill-fated lawsuit was just a gimmick to get her name in the press and heighten her visibility prior to her run for mayor. She also has been accused of being a loose cannon, which is one of the main reasons that the pro-abortion group Ruth’s List Florida will not back her in this election, despite her credentials as a progressive.For conservatives, there is a lot about Ford to dislike. During the June 28 mayoral candidate debate sponsored by the NAACP, Ford prattled on about, among other things, the need for “affordable” (read: taxpayer-funded) housing, her opposition to police chases, and her belief in (Republican) voter suppression. In past elections Ford has been enthusiastically supported by the SEIU, the Suncoast Sierra Club, and the Florida National Organization of Women Political Action Committee. Ford can fairly be described as a pandering progressive who favors big government with an authoritarian bent, making it very unlikely that she would be willing to work with members of the City Council to forge the sort of consensus that allows city government to serve its citizens effectively.
There is not much time left for conservatives to get in the game. St. Petersburg has chosen not to do early voting, but voting by mail is an option. The deadline to mail ballots to overseas and absent military voters is July 13; the deadline to begin to mail ballots to domestic voters is July 23. The voter registration deadline is July 27. The polls open on August 27 at 7:00 AM and close at 7:00 PM. Don’t forget to bring some identification.
* American humorist Will Rogers is famously quoted as having said that he never met a man he didn’t like.
By GH Khan
Who is Anthony Lenardo Cates and why is he running for Mayor of St. Petersburg?
Cates, age 23, is a newcomer to St. Petersburg politics who is not known to have had any prior interest in the subject. In the balkanized demographics and byzantine politics of the great City of St. Petersburg, some see the Cates campaign as part of the effort of supporters of the incumbent mayor to split the opposition among the city’s African-American voters, who tend to vote in a block and have a history of supporting the winner in mayoral races. There currently are 5 candidates in the race, including the incumbent Bill Foster, Rick Kriseman, Kathleen Ford, Paul Congemi, and Cates, making it unlikely that any candidate will get the required 50% plus one vote to take all in the August 27th primary election. This, the speculators allege, provides an incentive for the incumbent campaign to encourage vote-splitting that prevents the strongest challenger, Ford, from surviving the primary. No one is accusing His Honor or any of his supporters of doing anything illegal, and many brush off such speculation as nothing more than election-time paranoia. At the same time, no one in the neighborhood is saying that Cates is running because this is America and everyone deserves a shot at becoming mayor.
Still, there are a few odd things that do bear mentioning.
Atty. Brian P. Battaglia has filed with the Florida Secretary of State, Division of Elections, to run for Circuit Judge in the 2014 elections. Battaglia is seeking the Group 16 seat in Florida’s Sixth Judicial Circuit. That seat is currently occupied by Judge Walter Logan, who is expected to retire when his current term expires at the end of 2014. If elected, Battaglia will take office in January 2015. The Sixth Circuit comprises Pasco and Pinellas counties. Battaglia filed his initial paperwork on June 28, 2013. There currently is no other candidate in this race.
Battaglia has practiced law in the Sixth Circuit for over 25 years. He has a Avvo rating of 10, which equates to “superb,” and has a Martindale-Hubbell peer rating of 4.9 out of a possible 5.0, which equates to “preeminent.” His practice has included representing clients in criminal and civil matters in state and federal court, through all levels of litigation up to and through the trial and appellate stages. He also has considerable experience in mediation and alternative dispute resolution. He is married and has two children.
The primary election will be held on August 26, 2014, and will be preceded by absentee and early voting. The general election will be held on November 4, 2014. The absentee “send” deadline for the primary will be July 12 and for the general election will be September 20. Early voting for the primary will be August 16-23, and for the general election will be October 25-November 1.
Further information about Brian Battaglia can be found on his law firm website and his LinkedIn Profile. As of June 30, 2013 his campaign had not yet posted a public campaign website or social media campaign sites.
UPDATE (July 21, 2013): The Battaglia campaign has added a campaign website.
By Spartacus Thrace
As 2013 dawns across America, the Progressive Movement appears to be at the zenith of their power within the federal government and throughout major sectors of American society and culture. Buttressed by decades-long control or domination of the academy, the theater, the press, labor, and the Democratic Party, the Progressives have fundamentally changed the state of the nation by creating a secular utopian statist path as an alternative to the religious individualistic minimalist government path set down by the Founders two centuries ago and expressed in the obligations of the government to the governed they enshrined in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.
The Declaration has long been treated by many in power as an irrelevant historical relic. The radical notion that the Constitution is a “living document” has gained wide adherence across several parts of the societal spectrum, even among those who hold themselves out as experts on matters of constitutional law. America is now governed by a semi-permanent ruling class, engaged in rampant self-entitlement, seeing itself as separate and apart from — and superior to — the governed. The notions of the American melting pot of disparate peoples and American exceptionalism have been lost to Balkanization of the population along the classic imaginary socialist fault lines of race, ethnicity, gender, and class. The fundamental concept of minimalism — where the power of government is a revocable grant from the governed and the government has only that power and authority necessary to perform the essential duties entrusted to it by the governed — has long been smothered by massive growth in the size, power, and reach of the federal government and the concomitant decrease in individual liberty. Read the rest of this entry »
By Spartacus Thrace
An issue facing Florida’s voters in the November 2012 election is: Should Barbara J. Pariente, Peggy A. Quince, and R. Fred Lewis each be allowed to keep their jobs as justices on the Florida Supreme Court?
Each is up for a merit retention vote this year, and each has generated considerable controversy with decisions that opponents describe as anti-democratic judicial activism in denigration of constitutional rule of law in Florida. In particular, each has been accused of overstepping their authority in making law, as opposed to interpreting existing law, with far-reaching consequences for the people of the state.
Separation of Powers
As with all other states, Florida has organized its government upon the democratic premise that when a single person or group has too much power, that person or group can become dangerous to the citizens. To prevent such concentration of power, Florida has embraced the trias politica principle espoused by John Locke and Baron de Montesquieu, which separates the government into distinct executive, legislative, and judicial divisions. The Florida constitution also gives each branch certain defined powers not shared with the other branches, a concept knows as “separation of powers.”
Florida’s scheme of separation of powers is set forth in Article II of the state constitution which provides:
The powers of the state government shall be divided into legislative, executive and judicial branches. No person belonging to one branch shall exercise any powers appertaining to either of the other branches unless expressly provided herein.1 Read the rest of this entry »
By Spartacus Thrace
We rightfully expect political candidates and the people around them to be morally upright and of excellent character as a condition precedent to the ability to properly conduct themselves in the affairs of government if and when elected. The fact that a candidate for public office has pornography on his or her computer or subscribes to a pornography feed should be big news in any election, as it says a lot about the morals and character of the candidate. Presidential candidates and their committees are no exception. That is why it is significant and relevant to the election of our next President that the Barack Obama campaign subscribes to the pornography feed, https://twitter.com/ILikeTitsDaily, which features a daily posting of (often gaudy) photographs of the exposed breasts of women. Sometimes the breasts are not completely exposed, often the breasts are framed without showing even the faces of the women, and the sexual organs are exposed in some of the photographs.
There’s an old Rush song that says, “If you choose not to decide you still have made a choice.” Unfortunately, that’s not going to cut it for Republicans as we enter this, the winter of our discontent. It seems that we have finally reached the point where the battle lines have been drawn: Herman Cain is out, Rick Perry burned his sizzle even faster than his steak, and pretty much everyone else has settled to the bottom of the basket with the rest of the small fries–except for the two front runners, who are now preparing to duke it out for that most coveted prize, the GOP nomination for President of the United States.
Rocky Balboa and Apollo Creed? Ah, if only.
Whoda thought when all of this started that the contest would come down to Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich? While the Romney part is no surprise (it seems like he’s been running for president since the Truman administration), I had sort of gotten used to the idea of Gingrich being the color commentator, keeping things interesting with his debate flair and historical acumen but not standing a chance at getting the actual nomination. Now, at this late hour, it seems as if the Newtster’s strategy of keeping his power dry (at least when it comes to attacking his fellow candidates) and going slow and steady has paid off with a serious surge, denting Romney’s inevitability and throwing the party establishment into a bit of a tizzy. I have to admit, for a party that has a history of nominating the next guy in line, this makes things pretty damn interesting; however, with all the polls saying this and the pundits saying that, and the endless debates over who has the best chance of beating Barry the Most Magnificent next year, we are left to ask ourselves the most basic question: Why?
There are actually a couple of reasons. First off, the GOP rank and file are simply not that enamored of Romney. It’s not that he’s a bad guy–Lord knows, he’d be hands-down better than Obama–but after running McCain in 2008, the poster child for moderates, Republicans are ready for someone who stirs the blood a little bit. Hence all the flirtation with Perry, Cain, Bachmann–flavors of the month to be sure, but again you have to ask yourself why voters so desperately sought them out. It isn’t just because they’re looking for something new. It’s because they want something to get excited about. Romney feels too much like an arranged marriage. Sure, he’s a solid guy and all that. It’s just a little tough to get all hot and bothered over him–and hot and bothered is what gets people to the polls.
Enter Newt. A flawed prospect, to be sure. That unfortunate first name. No such thing as an unexpressed thought. He may not even be that conservative. But passionate? That he is–and he inspires passion in others as well. Love him or hate him, he doesn’t leave you wanting. In fact, he leaves you wanting more. As so much of politics is show biz, that last part is critical–and it’s also why I think he’s not just the latest Johnny Come Lately.
There’s also another Newt X-Factor, related to the first, and that’s his willingness to engage in political combat. We’re all being warned in advance that this is going to be the low-down dirtiest, nastiest election this side of a Jersey Shore beauty pageant, and already the national GOP leadership has telegraphed its reluctance to go after Obama personally. Gingrich, meanwhile, tantalizes us with his direct challenge to the president to meet him on the battlefield for some Lincoln-Douglas style debate action–a prospect that no doubt terrifies Obama, given his record and aversion to all public speaking that doesn’t involve a TelePrompTer. Conversely, the very prospect has Republicans licking their chops in anticipation. Hell, I think most of them would pay real money to see something like that. Mitt Romney, however, just doesn’t conjure up the same image. He seems more like a retirement community production of West Side Story, with the Jets and the Sharks throwing down over who cut in front of whom in the buffet line at Ponderosa. The stuff of dreams it ain’t.
So who’s ultimately better against Barry? Who knows? If Hollywood could figure that out they’d never have a flop. Ultimately, though, I’ll always bet on passion over indifference. Win or lose, at least you come away thinking it was worth the fight.