Florida Republicans should have choice for governor in 2014



I’ve been known to speak my mind. Whether it was as a member of the Florida Legislature or as a columnist, I have frequently expressed opinions, some of which are fairly provocative or even controversial.

I’ve been beguiled by the reaction to a comment I made at a public appearance last week. While no longer a state senator since leaving the Legislature in November, I’ve begun the transition into a part-time afterlife as a syndicated columnist.

I must be in a murky gray area, depending on whether the observer views me as a former senator, a future candidate or a current political commentator. I routinely turn down speaking engagements in an effort to close the political chapter of my career and concentrate on my new journalistic endeavors.

Months ago I committed to speak to the politically diverse Tampa Tiger Bay Club to recount my time as a Republican legislator and to offer my views on the state of the party. To my surprise, reporters from two major newspapers and an FM radio station were in attendance. A little odd since I was no longer speaking as an elected official. I proceeded to offer my opinions and some inside-baseball-type stories from the perspective of a life-long Republican.

I outlined policy differences I have with Gov. Rick Scott that covered a plethora of issues, including education, the environment, water policy, private prisons and transportation.

I stressed the need for the GOP to be more inclusive and more tolerant of other opinions and my belief that compromise, negotiation and working among various groups within our party as well as across party lines would benefit our party, our state and our nation. Along the same lines, anger, criticism and name-calling toward fellow Republicans for not being Republican enough or loyal enough is not a winning strategy for party building.

But let’s get back to “the comment.”

As an early supporter of Scott in 2010, I have grown increasingly disappointed in both his policies and his governing style. So I said what I’d been thinking.

Simply put: “I can’t imagine a scenario in which I could support Rick Scott again.”

There was no intent on my part to be ambiguous. Heck, I even added, “I hope another Republican or independent will enter the race.”

The news media immediately jumped to the hypothetical of a head-to-head match between Scott and former Gov. Charlie Crist. Audience members asked which Democrats could or should get in the race. “What ifs” and speculation ran the gamut.

Several media reports have hinted, if not directly stated, that I’ve endorsed Charlie Crist. I’m flattered that an off-the-cuff remark about not repeating the same mistake I made last time led to such speculation. And my social media sites are abuzz with interesting reaction.

While amusing, it also shows the depth of fear and loathing in these partisan battles.

Let’s pause for a reality check.

The election is 14 months away, and qualifying for the office is next summer, more than eight months away. There is still plenty of time for candidates to enter the race.

In fact, at this time before the last gubernatorial election, the field of candidates was far from set. I hadn’t even entered my short stint as a candidate, filing in November and dropping out before qualifying week in May. Rick Scott didn’t enter the race until April 2010!

With more Republicans turning away from Scott and his policies, I wouldn’t rule out a potential challenger. The Republican Party of Florida shouldn’t assume that all Republicans would fall in line to support Scott if he were the only choice they allow. They tried that last election and look how well that worked out.

Republican voters could stay at home or could consider other candidates such as Adrian Wyllie, the Libertarian, or the eventual Democratic nominee.

Rest assured, I will be deliberative in determining how to vote, but if you want to know whom I will support, ask me after qualifying, when we actually know who is running.

Paula Dockery is a syndicated columnist who served in the Florida Legislature for 16 years as a Republican from Lakeland.

Read more Other Views stories from the Miami Herald



    We can’t delay the fight against sea-level rise

    Regardless of its cause, sea-level rise is the inevitable, non-debatable consequence of the warming of the oceans and the melting of the planet’s ice sheets. It is a measurable, trackable and relentless reality. Without innovative adaptive capital planning, it will threaten trillions of dollars of the region’s built environment, our future water supply, unique natural resources, agricultural soils and basic economy.

American jihadist Moner Mohammad Abu-Salha, who eventually burned his passport, died in May after blowing up a truck in Syria.


    White House should release 9/11 documents

    The death of American jihadist Douglas McArthur McCain in Syria raised few eyebrows. It is no secret that there are about 7,000 foreigners fighting alongside the terrorists known as the Islamic State of Islam (ISIS) in Syria and Iraq, of which perhaps 150 to 300 are American.



    ISIS jihadis force U.S. to support its enemy Assad

    History is moving to give us an answer to one of the great foreign-policy debates of this decade. President Obama has time and time again dismissed the argument, repeated recently by Hillary Clinton, that the United States should have taken a more-assertive stance to affect the course of the civil war in Syria. Clinton, who as Obama’s secretary of state argued that Washington should give more material support for moderate rebels, says a decision to intervene could have prevented the current calamity.

Miami Herald

Join the

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category