Just like you, beleaguered television viewer with your eyes crossed at the incessant parade of political noise bom-barding your brain, we are so ready for this election cycle to be over. Alas, we have one final tradition to uphold before it’s done and we can all pass out. It’s time, once again, for your official Happytown™ Editorial Board endorsements! Read them, then weep.
U.S. Senate: Charlie Crist (NPA)
This one wasn’t easy. The (likely) notion of a Republican Marco Rubio victory in this ballyhooed Senate three-way tussle is, in fact, a nightmare of wretched proportions. Democrat Kendrick Meek has come off as an opportunistic spoiler (though it could be argued that Crist is really responsible for that), without the muscle to excite his own party base. So we’re left with known quantity Crist, who has at least on the surface bent in the right – or left – direction on issues involving teachers and gay rights. Never thought we’d say it, but vote for Crist.
U.S. Congress, District 3: Corrine Brown (D)
Republican Michael Yost is an auto mechanic who had an epiphany while riled up at a freaking tea party: He, the “little guy,” was not well enough represented in the D.C. noise factory. Though he claims no support from the big Republican machine, his website boasts some heavy endorsements from the GOP. Also, he’s running in a predominately African-American district against incumbent Brown, whose “sweet potato pie” colloquialisms – and solid record of working both sides of the aisle to obtain funding for projects important to Central Florida like high-speed rail – make her both likable and likely. Vote Brown.
U.S. Congress, District 7: Heather Beaven (D)
Whether or not Republican incumbent John Mica is actually the namesake inspiration for a deepwater oil field right next to BP’s Deepwater Horizon, he did come out of this year’s environmental calamity covered in sludge. Mica sided with Big Oil, which alone should be enough to arrest him. Also, hairpiece. Newcomer Heather Beaven is a seemingly moderate Navy veteran running a scrappy grassroots campaign with a heavy focus on education and the environment. We choose Beaven.
U.S. Congress, District 8: Alan Grayson (D)
He may be a crotchety Frankenstein who literally hates us, but at his core Grayson is the best congressman this district has seen in a long while (though, to be fair, it would be hard not to trump his lazy predecessor, Ric Keller). They don’t get much further left than Grayson, but his willingness to justify his positions with real policy knowledge and geeky charm makes him a winner in our book. Vote Grayson.
U.S. Congress, District 24:
Suzanne Kosmas (D)
Kosmas’ opponent, Republican Sandy Adams, stands for the following things: stronger border protection, fiscal conservativism and “pro-growth” policies. In our minds, that can be read as follows: wants aggressive, Arizona-style laws unfriendly to anyone with brown skin; favors large-scale development even though we’ve got a glut of empty and undervalued real estate molding away in the humidity; opposes health care reform. Kosmas may not be a shining star, but she pays attention to national issues important to us (health care for all, tax cuts for middle-class families), and some local ones as well: She’s worked closely with NASA to keep its jobs in Central Florida, and she’s helped implement tax cuts for small businesses to create growth. Vote Kosmas.
Governor: Michael Arth (NPA)
Yes, we know: Arth has neither money nor experience, and the book How to Build a Robot Army is on his coffee table. But keep this in mind: The guy pretty much single-handedly converted a DeLand drug slum into a legitimate neighborhood within the span of a year. His ideas are actually his own, and not only that, they’re good ideas. Given that Alex Sink left us underwhelmed, and that Rick Scott is, well, Rick Scott, we’re giving ourselves permission to follow our hearts on this one.
Attorney General: Dan Gelber (D)
Gelber is a whip-smart former federal prosecutor and a legislator with an impeccable record. Republican Pam Bondi is a right-wing puppet who makes guest appearances on Fox News. Gelber, please.
Chief Financial Officer: Lorranne Ausley (D)
This office is too important to throw away to Republican Jeff Atwater, a former banker and current president of the Florida Senate who appears to be too cozy with business-as-usual in Tallahassee (and its lobbyists) for our taste. Ausley is a career public servant who has a plan to clean up insider deals that sully the statehouse. We can get behind that – and besides, aren’t bankers the reason our economy is in the toilet these days anyway?
District 34: Steve Barnes (D)
Steve Barnes is a reasonable Democrat, but make no mistake: This is our plea to keep Republican Chris Dorworth away from the Speaker’s seat in 2014. Dorworth’s unfamiliarity with our nation’s supreme legal document – he co-sponsored an unconstitutional ban on abortions – makes us shudder. It’d be like having our own Christine O’Donnell calling the shots.
State House, District 35: No endorsement
While we wish that we could actively endorse novice Democrat Amy Mercado in this race, her apparent lack of any tangible dynamism on the campaign trail makes us wary. If only the Democrats could have produced a real spoiler for incoming, ethically challenged House Speaker Dean Cannon. Inevitability is a bitch.
State House, District 36: Scott Randolph (D)
This is a no-brainer. Randolph has been one of the only well-educated voices in the House for two terms, peddling policy over politics even against the odds granted the Democratic minority. His main challenger, Greg Reynolds, is a Log Cabin Republican with a moderately wooden platform.
Orange County Mayor: Bill Segal
With the long, strange mayoral trip pared down to an establishment Democrat (Segal) and an establishment Republican (Teresa Jacobs) – though this is a nonpartisan race – our wits are with Segal. Jacobs may come off as smarter, but she has been evasive on human rights issues and doesn’t seem equipped with the forward motion the county needs. Also, we’d rather drink with Segal.
State Constitutional Amendments
No. 1: Yes
This isn’t a stance we would have expected to take if you’d asked us a couple of years ago about Florida’s plan for public financing of campaigns for politicians who agreed to spending limits, but the plan isn’t working. Special interests are still able to spend their way into office. And it’s costing us lots of money. Need proof? See: Bill McCollum vs. Rick Scott in the 2010 gubernatorial primary.
No. 4: Yes
What’s confusing about this amendment initiative is that most of those coming out against it are the same folks who want to kill Washington (i.e., the Chamber of Commerce). It can be argued either way whether changes to comprehensive land-use agreements coming up for public referendum will clog the system (not likely), but we’re all for trying it out. Power to the people, right? Hear that, Tea Party?
No. 5 & No.6: Yes
We’re all for minority representation, but we’re not huge fans of the whole ends-justifying-means philosophy. Meaning that the gerrymandering – drawing legislative district boundaries around ethnically and ideologically homogenous blocs – has to stop.
No. 8: No
Supporters of this measure (including for-profit education companies), say money spent to keep class size in control would be better spent giving teachers pay raises; we don’t care how much you pay a teacher, it’s not going to make it easier to do the job if you overload the classroom with more students than one teacher can reasonably tend to.