Never a dull moment in Orange County Democratic politics. As the county emerges into a full-fledged urban area which favors Democrats, its internal politics is getting stranger and stranger. Enter Joshua “Pazy” Paladino, a local bomb-thrower who is running in the heavily African-American Commission District 6 despite not being African-American. Paladino has been an energetic but highly controversial and polarizing figure within the local party. He is likely facing off with former Commissioner and local political legend Homer Hartage in the August 2014 election.
Paladino has been mentored by former Chairman Doug Head who during his long tenure as Chairman (12 years from 1992 to 2004) bemoaned the lack of minority candidates, and despite finding some good candidates locally in the 2000 cycle, Head had little success in both 2002 and 2004. Paladino boasted in November on social media that he had voted for Gary Johnson for President because of objections to President Obama’s foreign policy. I too have issues with the President’s foreign policy (I took to social media in 2011 to ask Republicans in Congress to invoke the War Powers act and reign in Obama’s military intervention in Libya) however, a progressive voting for Gary Johnson is on domestic policy worse than a progressive voting for Mitt Romney. Johnson articulated during his campaign that folding cabinet agencies and busting unions by taking away collective bargaining and tenure would be good policies to pursue. Had “Pazy” truly wanted to invoke a protest at the ballot box, skipping the Presidential race or voting for Green Party Candidate Jill Stein would have been more appropriate.
The young candidate is an independent thinker. He has advocated on his campaign website a desire to lower the drinking age to 13 which is a non-conformist view but also is quite ridiculous in the scheme of things. He also has published various issue positions which have nothing to do with Orange County but reflect a contrarian world view much of which is based on selective readings of history and what has worked abroad.
Pazy’s involvement with the fringe political organization America Exposed will also certainly cause him trouble in the primary. The organization has staked out positions on a number of issues that have split the local community and have run satirical political cartoons that have mocked women and have taken below the belt shots at Orange County DEC Chairman and Tax Collector, Scott Randolph. Many of the changes to the DEC Randolph has advocated are in line with my article published last week about how DEC’s can return to local relevance. So while Pazy and his younger allies may claim to be reformers themselves, they are in fact opposing any sort of change that would make the party more effective and organized.
Pazy’s campaign may prove to be quixotic much like that of his ally Mike Cantone who received under 4% of the vote in last spring’s Orlando Mayoral Race. Cantone’s campaign did more to damage relationships within the local Democratic Party than anything it achieved as far as Orlando municipal government & politics. Pazy’s campaign starts out in a similarly dangerous fashion and we can only hope his tone changes and he attempts to conduct his campaign with some dignity and respect for party elders and activists.