Political lip sparring in Indian River County goes way back, just take a look at this vintage postcard from McKee, that Miss Vero dug up. And speaking of going way back, we are turning over today's post to someone who has been in town long enough to know ( not like someone who just blew into town and collects drops of wisdom from a Midwestern coffee chain restaurant). Yes that's right kids, Miss Vero is delighted, once again, to post favorite Beach House guest, Mr. Max Newport, who has been kind enough to put together his predictions for tomorrow's election.
DOWN TO THE WIRE - NOVEMBER 3RD, 2008
Here are a couple of Newports to puff on while we are waiting for . . . whoa!!! Just kidding folks. Only a moron would advocate taking up such a nasty habit. Max Newport is not a moron.
I want to thank Miss Vero for publishing my ramblings last week. It was nice to dust off the old Underwood typewriter and do some writing for the hippest site on the triple W.
As a lifelong resident of Vero Beach, Miss Vero has asked me to analyze the election and give my impression of the possible outcome. It should be no mystery at this point that I am somewhat conservative and a Republican. With those cards on the table, let’s take a look at the ballot.
PRESIDENT: There are quite a few folks on the ballot for this race that I have never heard of. Chuck Baldwin, for instance. I don’t see a lot of votes going Chuck’s way, although that is a pretty cool name for a candidate or a college quarterback. Is he one of the Baldwin brothers? Indian River is consistently a red county in presidential elections. Obama will get a good showing but the county will go for McCain.
CONGRESS: Bill Posey will win. It was pretty clear that he had strong support when very viable Republicans chose not to run against him in the primary. I’ve seen a couple of signs on the road for Stephen Blythe but I don’t see a Democrat replacing Dave Weldon, who was one of the most conservative members of Congress.
PUBLIC DEFENDER: This would have been a good race to put under the microscope because there are some real issues. Ms. Litty has had some problems with two lawsuits involving sexual harassment and the sudden disappearance of Edward J. Abare, who was in charge of the Vero Beach office and also the alleged harasser. She is married to Judge Tom Walsh in Fort Pierce and has received some criticism for seeking jail expansion rather than trying to work out deals for her clients. Chinquina is a relatively new attorney but is professional and competent. He has run a rather limited campaign. It is difficult to focus on the complexities of the issues in a 30 second television spot. Someone might be able to beat Diamond Litty, but it won’t be Don Chinquina in spite of a strong endorsement from the Palm Beach Post. Diamond should win handily.
STATE REPRESENTATIVE: Debbie Mayfield has a lock on this. She has no experience but has the support and respect of the backers of her late husband, Stan. Neal Abarbanell is a total unknown. Mayfield should win on name recognition alone. Ralph Poppell is doing a good job. The fact that I think he is a good guy and I didn’t know he had opposition until I saw the ballot, makes him the logical choice to win, although, a good portion of his district is in Brevard County and that is a different world up there.
CLERK OF COURT: Brian Burkeen is a good person and would probably do a good job as clerk, however he cannot articulate anything Jeff Barton is doing or not doing that he would do differently. Brian has served as mayor of Sebastian and has been very effective supervising emergency medical services. His only chip is that it is time for a change. Although Jeff Barton has held the job for 20 years, he is doing a good job. It is doubtful the voters will want change simply for the sake of change.
SHERIFF: Deryl Loar will win easily. I don’t recall the state attorney, Bruce Colton, ever endorsing a candidate in any previous election. That has to help, even though I think it was a lock before the endorsement. David Snell is a former Indian River County deputy. He was either the pilot of the helicopter or the guy that rode with the pilot. Either way, he always wore a flight suit. After talking to him, I don’t know why he wants to be sheriff. He should pick up some votes based upon the expected heavy Democrat turnout. Tony Consalo is a very earnest, hardworking and honest officer and an ear to ground indicates some support for him from current department personnel who are hesitant to endorse change, but that will not be enough. Loar in a landslide.
COUNTY COMMISSION: There is no need to waste words here. Bob Solari will pound Brian Heady. Wesley Davis will get 99.9 percent of the vote if the voters can remember the name of his write-in opponent. 100 percent if they don’t. Memo to Sandra Bowden . . .you have done an excellent job as a commissioner. You killed your political career with the Gloria Estefan thing. But for that faux pas, you would be beating Brian Heady.
APPELLATE JUDGES: They are always retained no matter what. Justice Charles Wells actually made the Florida Supreme Court look somewhat sane during the 2000 presidential election. He even came across well as portrayed in the movie “Recount”. It doesn’t matter how you vote, appellate judges are always retained. In order to be an informed voter, one would have to actually read some of their legal opinions and most folks just don’t have time for that.
CIRCUIT JUDGE: Judge Geiger has been an excellent judge and has been on the bench since Jimmy Carter was in the White House. For some reason he thought it would be cool to retire and grow coffee in Hawaii. He changed his mind and decided he wanted to be a judge again. He has been one of our better judges. His only negative is that his is 64 years old. Fran Ross has been a criminal defense attorney for 20 years. I just don’t think she would be a good judge. She is far too liberal and tends to sympathize with the criminals, but that is a common trait for defense attorneys. Sorry Fran, but Max picks Judge Geiger to get back on the bench. Geiger will sweep Martin and Okeechobee counties. Fran will do well in Indian River and St. Lucie but at the end of the day, Geiger will have more votes.
SCHOOL BOARD: Max does not know either Claudia Jiminez or Charlie Wilson and will admit ignorance when it exists. I guess I can toss a coin, but then again, so can you. I have no idea who will win this race.
SUPERVISOR OF ELECTIONS: I saved this one for last because it seems to have the most local interest. There are so many variables in this race that it is impossible to predict what will happen. In all candor, Max has known Kay Clem for a while and I will admit a bias in her favor. Max does not know Colman Stewart but has had some contact with Cathy Hart over the years. If the race were strictly between Clem and Stewart, Clem would win easily. Stewart has emerged in the past few weeks as a possible shady character with a distorted past with name changes and false official documents. The false information on the financial disclosure form could warrant criminal charges. U.S. Senator Ted Stevens of Alaska was convicted last week for providing false information on his financial disclosure form. The main thing Stewart has going for him is that he is not Kay Clem. Clem has made some mistakes, which she has owned up to. People that actually do work, make mistakes. A good worker can do 100 things a day and get 95 of them right, yet all you will hear about are the five that were flubbed. She has been attacked viciously by the Cathy Hart fan club on things that would ordinarily be ignored. I am not going to try and defend the lip gloss. The bottom line is that she has consistently provided the proper vote totals to the right state officials at the right time. None of the elections on her watch have been challenged. So basically, she has done her job.
There is an unknown variable in this race that makes it impossible to predict and that is Cathy Hart, who was fired by Clem earlier this year. The key question is how many Republican voters will sway to Stewart so that Hart can have her old job back. This is the key to the election. Even if Stewart wins, he loses, knowing that on day one the person who helped him get elected is beginning her campaign to take his job. He will be the Supervisor of Elections in name only and will constantly be looking over his shoulder for worry of a possible stab in the back. This will not provide a pleasant working environment for anyone in the elections office. It will likely be ugly and inefficient. Clem v. Stewart? Clem. Clem v. Stewart/Hart? Who knows.
Well, there you have it. Max Newport’s take on most of the local elections. I don’t know enough about the hospital board, mosquito control or land district to make any kind of prediction. As far as the Vero Beach City Council is concerned, it could be a long night for Tom White. I am not big on amending the constitution. Most, if not all, of the proposed changes can be made legislatively if they are that important. If the legislators are afraid to take a stand on controversial issues, they should not take it to the voters to change the constitution. Six proposed amendments is absurd. Amendments to the constitution should be few and far between less they lose significance. If they keep it up, the Florida Constitution will take on the heft of a statute book.
If you haven’t voted yet, do it so that you can rightfully be as cynical as Max. To all the candidates . . . Max wishes you all the best of luck.
Now, where is my lighter?
Of course y'all know Miss Vero will be adding our two cents tomorrow. Ok, that's right, much more than just two cents, so stay tuned.