- Illustration by Steve Madden
- tumbleweed reconnection: The unsinkable Linda Stewart is blowing her political foghorn again
With all the political upheaval of late – the jet-selling new governor, the creeping doom of a veto-proof Republican legislature, Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs’ iron-clad pocketbook – we’ve been in such a manic panic that we’ve almost forgotten how to stare at something funny and laugh. It gets dull gazing down the rocky edge of the abyss; sometimes we just wish a wayward tumbleweed-in-a-tiara with lipstick all over it would come rolling by and make us juice up and forget our collective misery. Well, last week it finally happened! Everybody’s favorite bawdy blonde gal (and former county commissioner) Linda Stewart announced her plans to rule the world!
Actually, Stewart’s been quietly dropping hints on napkins for a couple of weeks that she has something vaguely political up her sleeve, but on Thursday a glitter-fleck of actual news cropped up in the Sentinel, and hoo-boy, did it knock us off our asses. That just so happens to be where we keep our phone, so we grabbed it and got Linda on the horn. Literally. Talking to Linda Stewart is like being on the unforgiving end of a trumpet.
“I’m trying to let everybody know I’m considering it,” she squawks. “I don’t know If I’m going to do it or not.”
What it is remains somewhere between the painfully dissimilar task of running for state Senate or possibly making a go at the U.S. Congress. You might recall that, though she may have been the other Hillary Clinton at just about every Democratic event leading up to the 2008 presidential primaries, Stewart’s out-sized ambitions were slightly corrected in last year’s mayoral stakes where she was only able to pull in 19 percent of the county vote. But that’s not stopping our Linda!
“If Daniel Webster can get in … ” she picked some hay from between her teeth and invoked Alan Grayson’s stodgy old House-cleaner: “If he can do it, I can do it.”
That can-do attitude – coupled with a willingness to sing karaoke at a gay bar with us – is exactly the stuff that winning candidates aren’t made of, admittedly, but Stewart is well aware of the dark pink horse she’s riding to wherever. She’s no great fundraiser, she says (Stewart only pulled in about $130,000 for last year’s race), but what she lacks in cash, she can make up for with balls and gays (and gay balls).
“Wait til them Bible-belt people get a hold of me!” she laughs maniacally. “There’s no telling what they’re going to say to rip me apart!”
Anyway, 2012 will be a “whole different ballgame,” according to Stewart, because the sniveling left that decided to stay home and clean out their compost heaps in 2010 will be back out in droves for a resurgent President Obama. She’s already met with the ladies of girl-power politics at Ruth’s List and is strategically working her way up the Democratic handshake line to glory. Just don’t ask her to lower her expectations. A probably-more-attainable state House seat isn’t good enough for her red pantsuit. And local office? Pshaw.
“Mayor of Orlando!” she almost hangs up on us. “That’s the last thing I want to run for!” Welcome back, Linda!
Speaking of political pasts with up-in-the-air futures, we got a little tingle up our leg last week when a truncated Twitter-blip appeared suggesting that Grayson – formerly of What’s Up With Alan™ fame, before it stopped mattering – might be auditioning for a one-hour panelist gig on the MSNBC morning pout. Our thoughts wandered to present panelist and Palin-lover Pat Buchanan and prospective political cagefights; how ever would the old man survive? Answer: He would die quickly.
Anyway, according to a former aide, it turned out to just be a rumor, though Grayson did in fact play panelist for one day, and that one day was just one day before the mysterious disappearance of one Keith Olbermann from the cable network. Hmm.
Back in reality, the lack of political office once again provided no valid reason for Grayson not to air his views via a couple of e-mail blasts. In one harrowing missive written Wednesday, Grayson took aim (cough) at the “blood libel” controversy beneath which Sarah Palin is hiding these days.
"The headline was 'Palin Defends Blood Libel,'" his fingers rattled the nearest keyboard. "That's interesting, I thought. What else might Palin be defending? Cannibalism, maybe?"
Grayson went on to recount his own bouts with crazies during his 2010 campaign – one of his kids received a death threat the day before the health care vote, some radio jock offered listeners $100 to punch him in the nose – before leveling the blame squarely on Palin’s padded shoulders.
“Palin came to my district and told her people to ‘take me out,’” he wrote, adding, “We received so many threats of violence from teabaggers that we started a file.”
With that out of his system, Grayson filled inboxes again on Thursday, this time taking on the political pantomime of last week’s symbolic anti-health care U.S. House vote. Naturally, Grayson soapboxed the severe party line that made him famous in the first place, only this time the words “don’t get sick” didn’t appear on poster board because, well, nobody’s looking. “If insurance companies wanted a pony, the Republican leaders would try to give them pony,” he wrote. Wait! We want a pony! In classic Grayson form, the former congressman saved the best quip for his electronic dismount. Go get ’em Alan.
“You can call me partisan if you want,” he called himself partisan. “But I see one party’s leadership trying hard to solve this nation’s problems. And the other party’s leadership showing its true colors. They are callous sellouts. Always have been, always will be.”
In sort of related news, the New York Yankees are coming to town! Well, kind of. Local entrepreneur and recent Miami import Armando Gutierrez Jr. announced last week that players from the legendary baseball franchise would be in Apopka on Feb. 26 to give batting and fielding instruction to the children of Central Florida. (Registration for the event is at http://basesloadedorlando.com/workshop.) Since he said nothing about an age limit, we older kids attended the Jan. 18 press conference in Apopka, excited to hear about which pros would be there to tell us how to grip wood and handle balls.
But when the conference started, there was no mention of specific Yankees players, and when we asked, all we got was a shrug from the team representatives. “We still have to work around their schedules,” said team representative Vance Smith of the unknown Yankee stars. We held our bats anxiously and two days later, we got an e-mail update about the Yankee visit, which mentioned All-Star shortstop Derek Jeter. Yes! Continuing to read backward, however, we encountered the phrase “possible appearances by.” Frustrated, we called the PR firm that sent the glowing announcement to find out what the deal was. “As of right now, none of the players are confirmed, but the coaches from the team are,” one Xavier Martinez told us. “They do expect to get some players out there,” Martinez says, but Jeter’s visit is “up in the air.”
Shots of Yankee coaches in action aren’t exactly littering the bedroom walls of Central Florida’s little leaguers, but hey, they’re still Yankees! This isn’t the first time Gutierrez has baited us with juicy headlines that left something to be desired. Last October he announced he would be running for Alan Grayson’s Congressional seat, but five months later, he dropped out because he said he wanted to focus on bringing professional baseball to Orlando. In September, Gutierrez announced plans for a new baseball stadium in Orlando – but it would be for the Yankees’ minor league club, which he partly owns and is moving from Tampa to Orlando in 2014. Lame. Back to the dugout, Armando.