"Fear strikes out."
What a great day for the 12,500 people in Ed Smith Stadium. And America.
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A couple of days ago, I told you about an article in the Sarasota Herald-Tribune by Tiffany Lankes which discussed the high level of dishonest sleaze being leveled at Keith Fitzgerald in District 69. If you haven't visited WeDeserveHonesty.com and signed the petition urging Laura Benson to stop her campaign of lies, then please do so today.
Keith will be down there with Obama and that crowd of thousands. It's going to be a great event.
There's some news out today -- again from Tiffany Lankes, who has really brought her A-game, in the Herald-Tribune -- which should give you a pretty good compare and contrast between Keith and his opponent. The first looks at their stance on education.
Republican Laura Benson served for four years on the Sarasota County School Board, and Democrat Keith Fitzgerald is a political science professor at New College.
The two main candidates in the House District 69 race are both campaigning on education, which they say will be a top priority when the state Legislature convenes next spring.
Benson, the Republican, says that instead of putting more money into education, the state needs to give school districts more authority on how they spend their dollars.
The bold is mine, because... what? Her quote to back this up will leave you scratching your head:
"It's not how much money you put into it," she said. "It's what you spend your money on."
Florida consistently ranks as one of the lowest states in spending per pupil. Laura Benson's big solution to this unconscionable problem? Spend less! Hey Laura -- I've got a suggestion. How about we spend nothing at all! Perfect! That'll solve the problem of things like being dead-last in graduation rates in the nation.
Keith, on the other hand, actually has a plan.
Fitzgerald, the incumbent, is a Democrat who thinks the state needs to look for ways to raise more money for schools -- possibly with a cigarette tax -- and reform the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test so it includes a critical thinking component.
Fitzgerald's education ideas have won him an endorsement from the Sarasota Classified/Teachers Association. Board member Shirley Brown is one of his contributors.
We've heard a lot about change versus more of the same in this election -- usually coming from the top of the ticket. But if this piece about the differences Keith Fitzgerald and Laura Benson have on accountability in education doesn't sum up the need for change, nothing does:
Benson: Believes Florida can continue to address the achievement gap by monitoring student test performance among different groups of children.
Fitzgerald: Supports using bonus money to reward teachers who work in low-income schools, as opposed to rewarding money based on FCAT scores.
He also believes Florida needs to address factors outside of the school system that affect learning. One of his proposals is to use growth management policies that encourage integration in urban areas so that students with the most challenges are not concentrated in the same areas.
Keith Fitzgerald: let's think about creative ways to improve accountability and tie it to our neighborhoods and communities.
Laura Benson: Hey, whatever it is we're doing is cool.
Hey, isn't it nice to talk about, you know, issues for a change? I think so.
But Tiffany is really doing her homework. She has laid out this whole "Green Party" candidate thing very nicely: Names on ballots surprise Greens.
Yeah, no kidding.
No one in Florida's Green Party had heard of Horacio Lemus IV until his name showed up as a candidate for their party on the ballot in this year's District 69 House election.
Lemus, 21, was not the only surprise candidate. In four other closely contested state races, unknown twenty-somethings turned up as Green candidates without that party's knowledge or endorsement.
The five candidates received just enough in contributions to pay the qualifying fees, with some of the money coming from Republican donors. But they are not campaigning and are dodging inquiries from reporters and political parties.
I guess when you're running status quo GOP career politicians in races they're destined to lose, you'll do or say anything -- anything -- to get elected. Once again, the bold is mine.
And if you think I'm a partisan hack who is making crap up, here's what the GOP as well as Mr. Lemus had to say about these possibly fraudulent activities:
The state Republican Party did not return calls for comment. Lemus also could not be reached.
I think we can agree that their silence speaks volumes.
And if you're still not convinced, just follow the money:
Lemus collected $2,010 in contributions, including $10 he gave himself. The rest came in $500 donations from four other contributors, two of which have ties to Republicans. He has not raised any money since June 20, the day he qualified.
One of those contributions came from R & J Center Court, LLC, a company created in January by local Republican leader Bob Waechter.
Waechter said he could not remember if he gave any money to Lemus' campaign but said it would not be unusual for him to give money to a candidate who was not a Republican if he thought the person would be good for office. "If I meet somebody who's running for office and I don't think it will hurt the Republicans, I will make a donation," he said. "I give a lot of money."
R & J Center Court, LLC also made a $5,000 contribution to Floridians for Conservative Values, a group that pays for election ads and also received money from the state GOP.
Another contributor was Louis Betz and Associates, a lobbying group. Louis Betz, its manager, is registered as a Republican.
I'm sure Waechter thought that this guy no one ever heard of, who has never talked to a reporter, who has not raised any other money for his "campaign," was just the guy for the job.
Keith said it better than I have:
"If you believe in the political process in this country, I don't know how you get to the place where you put up a phony candidate," Fitzgerald said. "It's disappointing."
Let's show this crew that dirty tricks won't work. There are plenty of long-time Republicans out there who aren't believing Laura Benson's and the RPOF's filthy hype. Let's work together to show them that we're right on issues, and that we deserve leaders who want to work hard for us and work with us for a better, stronger Florida.