The two major political parties leading candidates for Governor are both from traditional Florida families – scion’s from historically important landowning and agricultural families. These families have long ruled Florida politics, though the emergence of Jeb Bush, an import from Texas and Rick Scott, as pure a carpetbagger as you’d find running for office changed the trajectory of Florida politics.
While it is fashionable to beat up on the rich and those who inherit a fortune and political legacy, let me say some words in support of both Adam Putnam and Gwen Graham. Before we start here let me state this is NOT an endorsement of any candidate but simply a perspective from someone who loves this state and has lived here for almost 40 years. I like what I hear thus far from Andrew Gillum (though I am bothered by his recklessness with use of emails, etc and don’t find the answers coming from his campaign particularly reassuring) and have openly stated that I would strongly consider supporting a John Morgan candidacy. Mayor Phillip Levine is an exciting potential candidate for me personally, but can someone like him win statewide or even get out of a Democratic Primary?
However, coming off the Scott and Bush years, maybe it’s time to put some authentic Florida back into the Governor’s office.
We live in a diverse state – the most unique in my opinion in this union, at least in my perhaps biased opinion. Governor Rick Scott and Jeb Bush didn’t really understand the state as a whole – Bush understood Miami and GOP politics – Scott somewhat understands business but could easily be governing Kansas or Iowa instead with his points of view and perspectives. We’ve also had state legislators who through the years have gotten more partisan and parochial about certain areas of the state – we no longer have universal global, macro thinking in our policy making.
The politicians tend to not know our state’s history (nor care to learn about it) or have the type of perspective needed to make decisions that impact the entire population of our state. Rick Scott’s perspectives were always skewed by a CEO-like view of our state which didn’t respect or understand where we came from.
In Adam Putnam and Gwen Graham, you have two leading candidates that scream FLORIDA in every way imaginable and whose family backgrounds and political histories have forged a full understanding of our state’s multifaceted problems. We are a microcosm of the nation as whole – a megastate with all of the problems associated with red and blue America – urban and rural areas, the Midwest, the Northeast and Pacific Coast. Our proximity to Latin America makes us unique and demands serious thinking and policy making – not just ideologically driven political rhetoric or cookie cutter ideas that come from other states who face less diverse challenges.
Our state currently provide lots of material for late night comics and the elite largely-Northeastern based media who vacations on our beaches, hangs out down here during campaign season but mocks us any chance they get because our elected and appointed leaders give them plenty of ammunition. It’s time for us as a state to own who we are and what we are – understand the challenges in front of us and confront them. Governor Rick Scott NEVER had a chance to do that because he simply didn’t understand them. Our current Attorney General is too partisan and parochial to understand it. Governor Scott and Attorney General Bondi have helped make us more mockable, so it is time to change that as well.
Probably no state in the Continental USA is more impacted by climate change than Florida (though Louisiana could make a case). No state recently has had a downturn in agriculture quite at the level we have due to various diseases and competition, perhaps unfair from abroad due to free trade agreements. No state has more growing large metropolis, and as much of a challenge in needing to link multiple big urban areas by both highway and rail. No state in the continental US absent Texas has greater distances from end to end, but even Texas doesn’t have the contrast in cultures and challenges we have from one part of the state to another.
It’s time we had a Floridian that really understands this state and truly cares about it as Governor, regardless of party or ideology. Both Graham and Putnam might be from a landed entitled aristocracy- first families of Florida, but those landowning families did serve this state well for decades. Neither should be any means be entitled to the Governorship, but both will bring a more statewide perspective rooted in historical realities to governing than our current Governor. That is from where I sit something to celebrate.
As for the race itself I’d expect Gillum, Morgan and Levine to show some of the same statewide understanding and hopefully lack of parochialism I am hoping for. On the GOP side, I don’t really see a comparable potential candidate to Putnam in terms of understanding of this state and being tied to it, but perhaps someone who runs in that primary will surprise us all. When I make my mind up about who to support next year, the understanding of the state as a whole and the resolution of some non-partisan, non-ideological issues related to this great state WILL factor into my decision.