The laughable practice of House “Memorials” has been used by Republicans to voice displeasure with the Federal Government and push an ideological agenda since Dan Webster was Speaker and Bill Clinton was President (One of the first “Memorials” the Webster-led House passed was urging President Clinton to push for a Balanced Budget Amendment to the US Constitution, a favorite Republican talking point of the 1990s). Wednesday, the House considered a memorial sponsored by Rep, Neil Combee (R-Auburndale) urging the feds not to interfere with gun laws. While the temper tantrum by the House sounded somewhat like the nullification and state sovereignty ideas Florida Democrats pushed in the 1950s and 1960s to reject Civil Rights legislation, this in fact has no impact beyond symbolism.
The exercise would have been relegated to the dustbin of comical Florida legislative history had so many Democrats not crossed over and supported this meaningless partisan gesture. This is especially galling considering as we have pointed out time and time again on this site, gun control has actually proven not to be a losing issue for Democrats in Florida.
Some of the votes by Democratic legislators cannot be classified as surprises. Rep. Katie Edwards (D-Plantation) was the only Democrat running for House in 2012 (incumbent or non-incumbent) that scored an “A” rating from the NRA. Rep. Mike Clelland (D-Longwood) represents a Republican oriented district and Carl Zimmerman (D-Dunedin) won a district in November that the Democrats hadn’t held since the early 1980s. Michelle Rewinkel-Vasalinda (D-Tallahassee) was given more of rural northern Leon County in reapportionment and she is the one Democrat in the House that truly does represent some gun crazy areas, so I can excuse her “yea” vote which was recorded after the roll call closed.
But what was disappointing were some of the Democrats who from urban areas voted yes. Dwight Dudley (D-St Petersburg) represents a heavily urban Pinellas County district. Once upon a time Republicans from Dudley’s area were for Gun Control, now even after Newtown a Democrat representing the area is voting wrong on these issues. Mark Danish represents a suburban Tampa area district and he switched his vote from nay to yea after the roll call closed. Danish’s district is the type that historically has favored some gun control legislation, especially background checks. Rep. Linda Stewart’s (D-Orlando) vote was also offensive, especially given her general liberal track record as an Orange County Commissioner, and her representation of an urban area.
Many Democrats in Florida have proven time and time again to be spineless when faced with Republican bullying and worse yet completely unaware of public sentiment or developments with the national party. Wednesday’s vote is another example that several Florida Democrats simply don’t understand the need to stand on principle and taking a moral stand as opposed to trading votes to curry favor with a majority party that continues to demonstrate a sense of entitlement in almost every public action they take.