Now that the Conventions are over and the debates are looming, and with just under sixty days to go before Election Day, it's easy to get caught up in the action at the top of the tickets. Every story everywhere, it seems, is Obama/Biden and McCain/Palin. Given that this is the most important presidential election in a generation -- maybe more -- we certainly should be paying attention.
But I get worried when we cover the Presidential/Vice Presidential candidates non-stop, because it tends to be at the cost of really great state-wide and local candidates.
With that, I'd like to introduce you, or perhaps re-introduce you to some local candidates from the Sarasota area. I should point out that each of these has the backing of the Sarasota DEC, so you know they are solid. The Sarasota DEC in particular has shaped up in recent years under the leadership of the Chair, Rita Ferrandino, who was covered by the New York Times at the Democratic Convention.
Help them how you can. If you're in the neighborhood, volunteer with them. If you can afford it, donate to them. Make calls for them. Tell others about them.
This is going to be a good year for Democrats -- but only if we widen the net across the whole ballot.
You have likely heard of Christine Jennings. She is running to unseat corrupt thug Vern Buchanan, whom she narrowly "lost" to last time around. An EMILY's List-supported candidate, she is what District 13 needs after Buchanan and his predecessor -- Katherine Harris.
Morgan Bentley is a Sarasota lawyer running for the State Senate vacated by Lisa Carlton (District
23). Morgan, looking confident at right, apparently has every reason to, according to the Sarasota Herald Tribune:
Democrat Morgan Bentley, also seeking the District 23 Senate seat, is president of the Sarasota County Bar Association and a well-connected lawyer at one of the county's largest firms. He already has $114,000 in campaign contributions.
I know for a fact that Morgan has been working hard, going door to door. Detert upset Empty Chair Charlie's chosen candidate in the primary, but don't let that fool you. She'd be terrible in the Senate. Help out Morgan however you can.
The Republican stranglehold on Sarasota -- in fact, on much of the Southwest Coast -- is eroding.
The current Sarasota Tax Collector, Barbara Ford-Coates, is proof of that. She's running for re-election, and Sarasota should keep her. After all, the National Association of County Collectors, Treasurers, and Finance Officers named her the "Victor E. Martinelli Outstanding Tax Collector." Come on. It's like the Oscars for tax collectors.
Jono Miller is running for Sarasota County Commission, District 1. Read more about Jono -- he's one of these guys you read about and wish you could accomplish half the stuff he already has -- and I think you'll agree, there isn't one single county in Florida would couldn't use a guy like him.
Those of you who know me even a little bit know of my affinity for police officers and military personnel. It has to do with my time working for the Drug Czar, when retired New York Police Officer George Kosnik served as a mentor to me, I'm sure -- not to mention all of the military personnel who treated me very well under the tenure of General McCaffrey.
So once I met Barry Sullivan, who is running for Sarasota Supervisor of Elections, I knew I'd like him. He has a remarkably distinguished career in the United States Air Force as well as with the Sarasota Sheriff's Office. Candidates like Barry are exactly the kind of candidates we mean when we talk about cultivating good Democrats to run for higher offices in the future. Consider donating to his campaign.
And speaking of law enforcement and politics, also consider donating to Curt Lavarello. Being a Democrat and running for Sheriff is tough. It's an office that is traditionally written of by Democrats -- for some reason -- and dominated by Republicans. It is time to break the mind-set that Republicans are the tough-on-crime party. Barry and Curt are proof that it's not.
Did you know that Sarasota has a Charter Review Board?
Yeah, me either.
But they do.
And we have a good slate of folks running to oversee "Sarasota's Constitution."
Virginia Hoffman-Meketon is in District 2.
Bryan Worthington is running in District 3.
Jamie Wilson is running in District 4.
Ray Porter is in District 5.
These are the folks who run for County Commission, State Representative, State Senate, and even Congress later on down the road. But they need to be "nurtured" now.
I have a lot of people ask me how they get involved in politics. I tell them to go volunteer -- on a campaign like Teresa Carafelli's, or Alan Penn's, or Virginia's, or Bryan's, or Jamie's, or Ray's, or any local ones.
They always look at me funny.
It's because I'm funny looking. But what they want me to say is Oh, just call up Barack and Joe and ask them if they need any help.
Doesn't work that way.
Anyway, let me round this out with a few more candidates I want you to consider. Florida House races are close to my heart, mostly because of Keith Fitzgerald -- but more on him in a minute.
I want to tell you about a race in District 71, the district vacated by Empty Chair Charlie's candidate, Michael Grant. Want a prediction? I predict that seat goes Democratic when Betty Gissendanner wins in November.
I strongly encourage you to check out her site and learn more about Betty. I am particularly fond of the "100 Women for Betty G" concept. Keep your eye on Betty G this November.
I know that Sam has been working hard -- and he could use your help.
Richard Jackson rounds out the field in District 67. Richard has solid experience, and will make a solid Representative in Tallahassee.
Of course, I couldn't end this post without a plea for two of my favorites: Representative Keith Fitzgerald, who is running for re-election in District 69, and Adam Tebrugge, who is running for Public Defender. Adam has a great blog, which you should read. It's a great accounting of a local -- and critically important -- race.
All of these candidates do. So give them a look, and see how you can help. It's an important election year, no question. Let's make sure we cover all our bases.