David Jolly Archives - Page 2 of 61 - Florida Politics

Adam Putnam political committee brings in more than $2.3 million in 2016

Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam raised more than $2 million in 2016, boosting his war chest ahead of a likely 2018 gubernatorial bid.

State records show Florida Grown, Putnam’s political committee, raised more than $2.3 million through Nov. 30. The committee has raised more than $6.3 million since February 2015, according to state campaign finance records.

Records show Florida Grown spent nearly $1.4 million in 2016, including at least $240,000 for political consulting and $51,450 for advertising and advertising design work.

Putnam is one of several Republicans pondering a 2018 gubernatorial bid. While he hasn’t formally announced his plans for 2018, many consider Putnam to be the man-to-beat in what will likely be a crowded Republican field.

Former House Speaker Will Weatherford announced on Dec. 22 he decided against a 2018 bid, saying his role in the 2018 gubernatorial election “should be as a private citizen and not as a candidate.”

“My focus right now is on raising my family, living out my faith, and growing my family’s business,” he said in a statement. “I look forward to supporting Republican candidates that share my conservative convictions and can keep Florida headed in the right direction.”

But Weatherford is far from the only Republican considering hoping in the race. House Speaker Richard Corcoran is believed to be considering a run, and a recent Gravis Marketing poll conducted for the Orlando Political Observer tested how Attorney General Pam Bondi, CFO Jeff Atwater and former Rep. David Jolly would fare on the ballot.

The field is expected to be just as crowded on the Democratic side. Former Rep. Gwen Graham, the daughter of former governor and Sen. Bob Graham; John Morgan, an Orlando trial attorney and top Democratic donor; Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine; Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn; and Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer are all considering a run.

Charlie Crist, Brian Mast among The Hill’s ’10 freshman to watch’ in Congress

Three Florida freshman are among the “freshmen to watch” in the 115th Congress.

On Monday, The Hill unveiled its list of “10 freshmen to watch in the new Congress.” According to The Hill, seven new senators and 55 new House members — including 10 from Florida — will take the oath of office on Jan. 3.

Newly elected Reps. Charlie Crist, Brian Mast and Stephanie Murphy were among the new members The Hill singled out.

Crist, a St. Petersburg Democrat, unseated Republican Rep. David Jolly in Florida’s 13th Congressional District. According to The Hill, the former Republican governor “is making a political comeback.”

Mast filled the state’ vacated by former Rep. Patrick Murphy, defeating Democrat Randy Perkins in Florida’s 18th Congressional District. The former combat veteran will be “one of the youngest members of Congress when he takes the oath of office in January,” according to the website.

Mast, according to The Hill, is one of three Republican “pickups in a year where they were playing defense.”

Murphy toppled Republican Rep. John Mica, the chairman of the transportation committee and a 24-year veteran member of Congress. Her win, according to The Hill, offered the Democratic Party “one of its few bright spots.” Her victory makes her the first Vietnamese-American woman to serve in Congress.

With its Lego project, the Tampa Bay Times crushes my hopes and dreams

Last week, the digital geniuses at the Tampa Bay Times debuted a multimedia presentation that used animated Lego figures and constructions to tell a complicated story about a planned toll road on the Howard Frankland Bridge.

“How the plan to fix Tampa Bay’s most important bridge fell apart, told in Legos” from Eli Zhang, Caitlin Johnston, Anthony Cormier, and Martin Frobisher is an absolute must-click for its combination of shoe-leather reporting and “Everything Is Awesome” visualization.

It’s a great read.

It’s visually stunning.

It’s also — to me and only me — heartbreaking.

Please allow me to explain, without taking anything away from the great work of the Times reporters, while also knowing that many in the Times newsroom will take some pleasure in my agony.

Back in May, I wrote in a Facebook post: “it hit me what my next project will be. The next enterprise of Extensive Enterprises, so to speak. People won’t get it at first. They’ll think it’s silly. Then it will get the right people’s attention. And then everyone will say, ‘How much does it cost to do that for us?'”

My excitement originated from a video from Bloomberg: “The White House Correspondents’ Dinner in Legos.

The introduction was — “Curious how the White House Correspondents’ Dinner works? We explain … with Legos.”

It’s that simple.

As soon as I finished, I had a Eureka moment. Why not bring the Lego video concept to Florida politics? Isn’t that what I’ve done before — take a national idea and make it Sunshine State-sized?

My plan was straightforward. I would first produce a video about some storyline involving Florida politics. From there, I would partner with public relations firms who needed a new way to tell their side of a food fight happening in the Florida Legislature.

“Marion Hammer wants 18 year-olds to bring guns to college campuses … told in Legos.”

“The Workers Comp food fight … told in Legos.”

“Why you can’t get Uber in Miami … told in Legos.”

Whatever. You get the point.

A team of folks (much funnier than I) would help write the scripts. I’d build the Lego sets. Kevin Cate would shoot the videos.

It’s ratings gold, Jerry.

Except for one thing — Lego sets are not very easy to build. At least not the interesting ones.

And, like the Times, finding the right Lego Minifigures is next to impossible.

Kristen Hare of The Poynter Institute details the roadblock the Times team faced.

“We’ve found many Lego-people-packs online,” said (Adam) Playford, director of data and digital enterprise at the Times. “But they all have too many weirdos, like Lego Bananaman and Lego Grim Reaper. Regular Lego people are apparently no longer in vogue.”

Playford and Co. solved their Lego-people-problem by putting out an all-hands-on-deck request to the staff at the Times. I, of course, do not have that luxury.

So … and here’s where some of the agony begins to set in … I worked with a firm in London to create custom Lego Minifigures.

For the script of the first video, I would tell the story of Marco Rubio and the race for Florida’s U.S. Senate seat.

I ordered Minifigures resembling Rubio, Donald Trump, Patrick Murphy, Alan Grayson, Carlos Beruff (in a trademark black shirt), Ron DeSantis (pictured here in a Navy outfit, of course), and David Jolly.

As for the sets; well, let’s just say what the Times built for its very nice story about a bridge is, um, child’s play.

I started by building the small city building sets:

Soon, I became more ambitious, building bigger sets:

I assembled cars, planes, and trucks (including a replica of one the U.S. Senator drives) so we could shoot the pivotal scene from outside the Pulse nightclub in Orlando where Lieutenant Governor Carlos Lopez-Cantera tells Rubio he should re-enter the race.

I even built The White House (which was very difficult because it’s from the “Architect” class of Lego sets, which is basically Lego’s way of saying “A lot of f*cking pieces are in this box.”

I’ve been building and collecting Lego sets for nearly seven months, thinking the entire time that no one else would bring an idea I first saw on Bloomberg to Florida politics.

And then my bitter rival, the Tampa Bay Times, unveils its pretty little story about a bridge.

When I read the first tweet about the story, I knew what it was about without clicking on the link. My heart sank to a depth deeper than those caissons that hold up the Howard Frankland.

Sure, as my wife and other friends have said, I could continue my Lego project — and I still might.

But that’s like making “Deep Impact” after you learn that “Armageddon” is in production.

“Deep Impact” is probably the better film, but everyone remembers “Armageddon.”

If I do a ” … as told by Legos” video now, critics will say, “but didn’t the Times do that first?”

And screaming “but Bloomberg did it before either of us” does nothing to solve the problem.

Now I am stuck with a whole lot of Legos — which is OK, since my daughter, Ella Joyce, loves building with them.

In fact, Legos are one of the things we’ve been able to do together.

Just yesterday, Ella became sick on our way to a Christmas event replicating a train ride to the North Pole (it’s awesome, and I recommend it to every parent.) We were forced to turn around, missing one of our favorite holiday traditions.

To make up for it, I finished building this — bringing the North Pole to Ella:

If this episode has taught me anything, it’s that, as an entrepreneur, when a light bulb goes off, move quickly. That’s what worked for Sunburn, Florida Politics, INFLUENCE Magazine and everything else I’ve done.

I moved too slowly on this project and, subsequently, I lost out.

That won’t happen again.

Speaking of which, I have an idea for a …

 

Pinellas GOP, Democrats poised to elect party leaders this Monday night

When it comes to drama with their upcoming party reorganization meetings taking place next week, Pinellas County Republicans and Democrats have nothing on their Hillsborough County brethren.

This coming Monday night, the local executive committees for the Republican and Democratic Parties in Pinellas County will be voting for their party leaders, and in both cases, it doesn’t appear to be many changes at hand – at least not yet.

Pinellas Democratic Executive Committee Chair Susan McGrath is running to serve a second term, after defeating Mark Hanisee in a contentious election back in 2014. She has no competition at the moment. Amos Miers is running for vice chair, Wanda Schwerer, who is running for state committee woman, and Rick Boylan, who is running as state committee man. That meeting will take place at the St. Petersburg Marriott Clearwater at 7:00 p.m.

“We are fortunate to have some solid unity and forward momentum in Pinellas with 4 of 7 people running for December PCDEC Board positions who are new, 3 of which are Berniecrats (Bonnie Agan for Secretary) and two who were Bernie Delegates (Wanda Schwerer for re-election to State Committee Woman and myself running for Vice Chair for the first time ever),” Miers said on Saturday.

Over in the Republican world, incumbent Pinellas County Republican Executive Committee Chair Nick DiCeglie is also running unopposed for a second term this Monday night as well. A former vice chair, DiCeglie defeated Lee Pilon and George Farrell for the top position two years ago.

Todd Jennings is also running again as vice chairmanThe Pinellas GOP meeting takes place at the Feather Sound Country Club in Clearwater at 7:00 p.m.

While there is little competition in the local party elections, there is a definite rivalry between McGrath and DiCeglie.

McGrath boasts that the Democratic Party leads the GOP in terms of registered voters, and that that the “two most important seats that local parties include, the Board of County Commissioners and Florida’s 13th Congressional District went to Dems,” despite the turnout advantage for the Republicans last month.

The Democratic Party took control of the Board of County Commissioners for the first time in decades after the 2014 election and maintained it last month, while Charlie Crist defeated David Jolly in the CD 13 contest.

DiCeglie concedes the Pinellas Democrats have retaken the lead in voter registration, but says his party took the real prize when Pinellas went for Donald Trump last month over Hillary Clinton, after Barack Obama had taken Pinellas by nearly ten percentage points four years ago.

“The minute a president wins an election and caries that county, this is now a Red county,” he says.

The relative no-drama party elections are in stark contrast with the R’s and D’s across the bay in Hillsborough.

Although Ione Townsend won re-election as Hillsborough Democratic party chair this past week with no opponent, some local Democrats are still cross with her after Monday night’s controversial meeting which resulted in the locally elected Democrats being told that the by-laws of their DEC banned them from participating in the race.

The Republican Executive Committee of Hillsborough County doesn’t get together until Tuesday, December 20, but that could be interesting. Incumbent chair Deborah Tamargo, who defeated former chair Debbie Cox-Roush for the top role two years ago, is being challenged by Jonny Torres.

Charlie Crist calls on Congress to extend tax breaks before adjourning for the year

Charlie Crist is calling on the 114th Congress to extend tax breaks benefiting students and seniors before it adjourns for the year.

The congressman-elect on Tuesday asked Congress to extend several soon-to-expire tax breaks, including a medical expense deduction for seniors, and a tuition and fees deduction. Congress is expected to adjourn for the year later this week.

“These tax breaks are important to seniors, students and homeowners struggling to make ends meet,” said Crist, Florida’s former governor, in a statement. “Congress can and should extend them before the end of session.”

Crist has honed in on five tax breaks that help seniors, students, and middle class homeowners. The breaks are:

— A medical expense deduction for seniors, which allows seniors to write off health care costs once they’ve spent 7.5 percent of their gross income on health care. If the tax break isn’t extended, the threshold is expected to increase to 25 percent.

— A tuition and fees deduction for higher education costs, which provides middle and lower income students with a $4,000 tax credit annually.

— A mortgage insurance deduction for homeowners making under $100,000 a year — $50,000 for married couples filing separately — that allows them to write off their mortgage insurance premium or private mortgage insurance.

— A home debt forgiveness program for homeowners underwater on their mortgages. Currently the discharge of the debt is excluded from being considered as income. Without the extension, the debt could be considered income and would be fully taxed.

— Energy efficient tax credits for homeowners that purchase qualified energy efficient windows, doors, insulation, heating and air conditioning units, water heats, and other environmentally home improvements. Under current law, homeowners can write off 10 percent of the purchase price of the items, up to $500 in credit.

“The Majority in Congress wants to delay consideration of these tax breaks until next year, when they hope to overhaul the tax code,” said Crist in a written statement. “The better way forward would be to do what’s right for our seniors, students and middle class homeowners and extend these tax breaks now!”

Crist defeated Republican Rep. David Jolly to become the Democratic representative from Florida’s 13th Congressional District.

Charlie Crist unanimously inducted into New Democrat Coalition

Newly elected Congressman Charlie Crist is one of the freshmen lawmakers making up the New Democrat Coalition for the 115th Congress.

By a unanimous vote, the Coalition inducted 10 members-elect — four from Florida — to the progressive centrist group of legislators dedicated to advancing the New Dem vision of economic innovation, competition and national security.

Crist recently defeated incumbent Republican David Jolly in the redrawn Florida’s 13th Congressional District. The former Republican governor joins Democrats Val Demings of CD 10, Stephanie Murphy of CD 7, and Darren Soto of CD 9. Murphy had unseated longtime Republican John Mica, who represented Central Florida for 12 terms; Soto became Florida’s first Puerto Rican in Congress.

“In a year that was filled with disappointment adding to the New Dem ranks offers a bright spot,” said coalition chair Rep. Ron Kind of Wisconsin. “The New Democrat Coalition is proud to induct these ten accomplished and dedicated Members-Elect into our growing coalition.

“Together we look forward to advancing key priorities including growing the economy, giving everyone a shot at the American Dream, making government work better, and keeping our nation secure,” Kind added.

The remaining crop of members-elect to the group include Salud Carbajal (of California’s CD 24); Lou Correa (California’s CD 46); Josh Gottheimer (New Jersey’s CD 5); Colleen Hanabusa (Hawaii’s CD 1); Tom O’Halleran (Arizona’s CD 1); and Brad Schneider (Illinois’ CD 10).

Charlie Crist defeats David Jolly in CD 13 race

Charlie Crist has defeated David Jolly in Florida’s 13th Congressional District by four percentage points, 52 percent to 48 percent.

The Associated Press called the race with 239 precincts out of 241 reporting.

His victory will be framed as his political comeback, following two rough losses statewide for U.S. Senate in 2010 and governor in 2014.

Crist originally did not intend to run against Jolly in the CD 13 seat, but after the district’s lines were redrawn in 2015, Crist opted to get into the race. It didn’t hurt that the new district was much more favorable to a Democratic candidate.

For Jolly, it ends a very eventful 20 months in office.

When redistricting did occur last year, he opted to run for the then-open U.S. Senate seat Marco Rubio said he would be leaving to run for president. But Rubio reversed course in June, weeks after he dropped out of presidential contest.

The race became vitriolic between the two men from the jump. When Crist declared his candidacy in the fall of 2015, Jolly somewhat uncharacteristically crashed his press event, blasting him at the time.

Tensions escalated after the Democratic Campaign Congressional Committee began airing a television ad featuring a photoshopped picture of Jolly with Donald Trump. In fact, Jolly has denounced Trump’s candidacy, and he called for local stations and the DCCC to stop airing the ad.

But the ad continued to air for several weeks until Crist ordered it to come down, after a stern editorial written by the Tampa Bay Times called on him to do so.

“Congratulations to Charlie Crist on becoming the next representative for Florida’s 13th Congressional District,” House Majority PAC Executive Director Alixandria Lapp said in a statement. “FL-13 voters have rejected David Jolly’s backwards agenda and chosen a representative who will make their voices heard in Washington. House Majority PAC is proud to have played a role in ensuring Charlie Crist will be able to do great work in Congress.”

HMP aired two TV ads on broadcast, cable, and digital platforms in the Tampa Bay media market, becoming the first outside group to spend on TV in the race.

Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine, a potential 2018 Democratic gubernatorial candidate, congratulated Crist on his victory. “His community and our state will be well represented by Charlie and our delegation will be stronger because of his victory tonight,” he said.

Party like a politician: Where to find the candidates on Election Night

Election night parties will be raging across the state Tuesday. For some, it’s a chance to pop some bottles and celebrate. For others, it will be a somber event, marking the last hurrah of a long, hard-fought campaign.

Want to party like a politician? Here’s a rundown of where candidates will be as the polls close.

U.S. Senate

It was one of the most-watched U.S. Senate races this election cycle. And on Tuesday night, both Sen. Marco Rubio and Rep. Patrick Murphy will be toasting the crowd in South Florida.

Rubio will attend an election night party at the Hilton Miami Airport, 5101 Blue Lagoon Drive in Miami. The party is expected to begin around 6:30 p.m.

Meanwhile, Murphy will be in Palm Beach Gardens. The Democrat is set to attend an election night party at the Palm Beach Gardens Marriott, 4000 RCA Blvd. in Palm Beach Gardens. The doors open at 6:30 p.m.

Rubio has consistently led in the polls since announcing his re-election bid in June. Outside groups have poured millions of dollars into the race to re-elect Rubio; Murphy had the backing of President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

U.S. House

CD 2 — Republican Neal Dunn will hold an election night part at the Holiday Inn Panama City, 2001 N. Cove Blvd. in Panama City. The Panama City surgeon faces Democrat Walter Dartland and Libertarian Rob Lapham.

CD 5 — Democrat Al Lawson will hold his election night party at The Moon, 1105 East Lafayette St. in Tallahassee. The party kicks at 6:30 p.m. He faces Republican Glo Smith.

CD 6 — Rep. Ron DeSantis will hold his election night party at Daytona International Speedway, 1801 W. International Speedway Blvd. in Daytona Beach. The party kicks off at 6 p.m. DeSantis faces Democrat Bill McCullough.

CD 7 — Democrat Stephanie Murphy is holding her election night part at 7 p.m. at the Sheraton Orlando North Hotel, An Tobar Irish Pub, 600 North Lake Destiny Dr. in Maitland. She faces Republican Rep. John Mica.

CD 12 — Rep. Gus Bilirakis will hold his election night party at the St. Nicholas Cathedral Center, 348 N. Pinellas Ave. in Tarpon Springs. The fun begins at 6:30 p.m., and will include a visit from Shalyah Fearing, a semi-finalist on NBC’s “The Voice.” Bilirakis faces Democrat Robert Matthew Tager in the general election.

CD 13 — Rep. David Jolly will hold his election night party in the grand ballroom at The Vinoy Renaissance St. Petersburg Resort & Golf Club, 501 5th Ave. N.E. in St. Petersburg. The fun begins at 6 p.m. Jolly faces former Gov. Charlie Crist, a Democrat, in the general election

CD 18 — Republican Brian Mast will hold his election night party at Spoto’s Oyster Bar, 131 S.W. Flagler Ave. in Stuart. The party kicks off at 6 p.m. Democrat Randy Perkins is holding his party at Big Apple Pizza, 2311 S. 35th St. in Fort Pierce. Perkins’ party is expected to begin around 7 p.m.

CD 19 — Republican Francis Rooney will hold his election night party at Bistro 41, 13499 Cleveland Ave. in Fort Myers. The party begins at 6 p.m. Rooney faces Democrat Robert M. Neeld in the general election.

CD 22 — Rep. Ted Deutch will hold his election night party at Miller’s Ale House, 1200 Yamato Road in Boca Raton. The party begins at 7 p.m. Deutch, a Democrat, faces Republican Andrea Leigh McGee.

CD 26 — Democrat Joe Garcia will hold his election night party at La Carreta Restaurant, 11740 S.W. 88th St., in Miami. Garcia faces Rep. Carlos Curbelo, who unseated Garcia in 2014.

State Senate

SD 8 — Democrat Rod Smith will hold his election night party at the Gainesville Woman’s Club, 2809 W. University Ave. in Gainesville. He’ll be co-hosting the party with Ken McGurn, a Democrat running in Florida’s 3rd Congressional District. Smith faces Republican Rep. Keith Perry in Senate District 8, while McGurn faces Republican Ted Yoho.

SD 13 — Republican Dean Asher is holding his election night party at Sheltair Orlando Air Center, 3024 E. Amelia St. in Orlando. The party kicks off at 7 p.m. Asher faces Democrat Linda Stewart.

SD 16 — Sen. Jack Latvala will hold his election night party at Ruth Eckerd Hall, 1111 N. McMullen Booth Road in Clearwater. If one Latvala isn’t enought, Rep. Chris Latvala will also be hosting his party at Ruth Eckerd Hall. The fun begins at 7 p.m. Sen. Latvala faces Katherine Perkins, a write-in candidate; while Rep. Latvala faces Democrat David Vogel in House District 67.

SD 18 — House Majority Leader Dana Young will hold an election night party at Pane Rustica, 3225 South MacDill Ave. in Tampa. Young faces Democrat Bob Buesing and no party affiliate candidates Joe Redner and Sheldon Upthegrove.

SD 37 — Rep. Jose Javier Rodriquez will host his election night watch party at Ball & Chain Restaurant, 1513 S.W. 8th St. in Miami. The fun begins at 7 p.m. Rodriguez faces Sen. Miguel Diaz de la Portilla.

SD 39 — Sen. Anitere Flores will hold an election night party at 8470 S.W. 8th St. in Miami. The party starts at 8:30 p.m., and Flores will be joined by Senate President designate Joe Negron and other election officials. Flores faces Democrat Debbie Mucarsel-Powell.

State House

HD 9 — Democrat Loranne Ausley will host an election night party at 7 p.m. at The Southern Public House, 224 E. College Ave. in Tallahassee. Ausley faces Republican Jim Messer.

HD 49 — Democrat Carlos Guillermo Smith will host his election night party at 7 p.m. at The Abbey, 100 S. Eola Drive in Orlando. He won’t be partying alone: Democrat Beth Tuura is also holding her festivities at The Abbey. Smith faces Shea Silverman in House District 49; while Tuura faces Republican Rep. Mike Miller in House District 47.

HD 63 — Democrat Lisa Montelione will host her election night party at Mr. Dunderbaks, 14929 Bruce B. Downs Blvd. in Tampa. The event is free and open to the public, and kicks off at 6:30 p.m.

HD 69 — Rep. Kathleen Peters will host an election night party at Middle Grounds Grill, 10925 Gulf Blvd. in Treasure Island. The party begins at 6:30 p.m. Democrat Jennifer Webb will hold her election night party at Punky’s Bar and Grill, 3063 Central Ave. in St. Petersburg. The party begins at 6:30 p.m.

HD 70 — Former St. Petersburg City Councilmember Wengay Newton will host an Election Night Watch Party for his campaign beginning 6:30 p.m. at The Hangar Restaurant & Flight Lounge in downtown St. Pete. The Hangar is located at the Albert Whitted Airport Terminal, 540 1st St. S.E., Second Floor in St. Petersburg. RSVP at 727-823-PROP. Newton faces Republican Cori Fournier.

HD 114 — Democrat Daisy Baez is holding her election night party at Pinch Me Gastrobar & Market, 216 Palermo Ave. in Coral Gables. The fun begins at 7 p.m. Baez faces Republican John Couriel.

Candidates aren’t the only one partying. Local party officials and supporters of ballot initiatives will also be partying hard Tuesday night:

— The Republican Party of Pinellas County holds its Election Night Watch Party at the St. Petersburg Hilton, 950 Lake Carillion Drive in Clearwater. Doors open at 6 p.m., with a cash bar.

— United for Care, the group behind the medical marijuana ballot initiative, will host its election night party at a hotel in downtown Orlando. The event kicks off at 6:30 p.m.

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Tom Jackson: At our time of choosing, will we guess wrong?

And so, at last, it is upon us. Election Day. Time, fence-sitters, to decide.

We’ve been counting down so long, all the way back to the spring of last year; it sometimes seemed we’d never get here.

Great nation that we (still) are, however, propelled by momentum and time-honored systems that guide truer than any GPS, we’ve navigated the distance: From the GOP’s scrum-debates of last fall through the frigid caucuses and first primaries, through the snooze-fest conventions and the increasing post-Labor Day urgency, to here, this day, this moment.

The choice apparent record numbers of voters have been pushing off — and who can blame them, really — is now. Time to choose. Time to commit.

Time, if the dug-in partisans who’ve been slinging varieties of the same invective on your Facebook page since before Memorial Day, to decide … and to discover if the progression of events has assumed the role of the Man In Black and this truly is our iocane-powder moment.

Will we, too, guess wrong no matter what? Is this a land war in Asia or, worse, going in against a Sicilian when death is on the line? Or has the United States, buoyed by the genius of its shared-authority Constitution, spent the last two-plus centuries building up an immunity to two equally poisonous goblets of wine?

My money is on Mr. Madison’s antidote of checks and balances, as well as the resilience of the American people who, as Winston Churchill once said, always can be counted on to do the right thing … once all other possibilities are exhausted.

Not that the choice still lurking for those of us — including me — who reserve and hallow Election Day for the vigorous exercising of our franchise, has improved, or, frankly, even clarified, with the approach and, at last, arrival of today.

The negative campaign messengers have convinced me. One is an orange, helmet-haired xenophobe with a dismal moral character who lashes out in unpredictable fashion as it suits him. But he has lovely children. The other is the most corrupt candidate for high office in any reputable historian’s memory, whose corrosive appetite for power is exacerbated by Nixonian characteristics: paranoia and vengefulness. But Chelsea seems OK.

In a change election, in a nation whose inhabitants, by more than 2-to-1, ache for a new direction, our top picks for president each seems a perversion. One wouldn’t be where he is without having converted a personal fortune into brand-conscious schtick. The other wouldn’t be where she is without her married last name and the blessing — in an America increasingly organized around group identity — of lady parts.

Given that, it seems perfectly appropriate that the final week swirled around the revelation of fresh correspondence discovered only because the husband of Hillary Clinton’s closest confidant is an apparent serial creep who hoarded his wife’s email on a laptop — and that the whole thing, resolved in record time by the FBI — amounted to nothing.

The entire affair almost seemed a feint, a dodge, a misdirection play, mischief from the nation’s chief investigative team. Imagine Director James Comey as Johnny, pulling the plug on the runway lights in “Airplane.” Just kidding.

Well. You can believe that if you want to.

Meanwhile, in Michigan and Pennsylvania Sunday night, Donald Trump, to the cheers of those who skipped Economics 101, resumed his pledge to punish U.S.-based companies that attempt to move or outsource.

Hoo, boy.

The whole thing tempts you to leave the top of the ballot blank, and dive straight into the foundational races.

Will Floridians renew Marco Rubio’s political lease? (They should.) In Pinellas County, will David Jolly’s against-the-grain legislative and campaign styles usher him past the latest iteration of Charlie Crist while showing Republicans a possible new way forward in their (presumed) post-Trump era?

In north Tampa, will the GOP’s Shawn Harrison have stitched together a sufficient number of disparate supporters to hold off Democrat Lisa Montelione in the mixed blessing that is state House District 63? Or will his history as the Legislature’s perpetual freshman — winning off-year elections, losing during presidential years — endure?

And will we, as is prudent, reject all attempts to amend the Florida Constitution at the ballot box? … Or will we face Wednesday’s new dawn having acquired a malady covered by medical pot, and be happy for the hippy dippy wisdom of the state’s voters?

Strap in. At long, long last, Election Day is here, and it’s going to be a bumpy ride.

Ex-Gov. Charlie Crist aims for political comeback in House

It’s a sunny fall day at Williams Park in downtown St. Petersburg, and Charlie Crist is in his element.

“What’s your name?,” he purrs to a woman in a wheelchair, taking her hand. He beams a white smile that matches his snow-white hair, contrasting with his tan face. “May I get a picture?” he asks, bending down on one knee. The woman giggles.

Crist, a Republican-turned-independent-turned-Democrat, is a former governor, former state attorney general and was on the short list to be Sen. John McCain‘s vice presidential running mate in 2008. This year, he’s setting his sights on a seat in the U.S. House.

Democrats are counting on Crist and other candidates to make significant inroads into the Republicans’ commanding House majority. Florida offers at least three potential Democratic gains as the party tries to cobble together a 30-seat pickup.

Crist, a 60-year-old lawyer, faces Republican incumbent U.S. Rep. David Jolly. The race may be one of the few nationally in which the Republican candidate is using Donald Trump against the Democrat, noting that Trump helped Crist raise money when he was with the GOP.

“It’s a crazy year,” Crist says.

He hopes it’s his year.

Crist has the hometown advantage — he was raised in St. Petersburg — and is running in a redrawn district that includes more African-Americans.

Jolly, who has represented the 13th Congressional District since 2014, is hoping Crist’s complicated political past will make him vulnerable.

“The fundamental issue is trust. Everybody knows Charlie, they know he’s been on every side of the issue,” Jolly says. “By most polls, this will be a neck-and-neck race.”

A recent poll by St. Pete Polls shows Crist with a narrow lead, while another tally by the Public Opinion Research Laboratory at the University of North Florida shows Crist leading Jolly 54 percent to 36.

Crist, who was governor from 2007 to 2011, ran for Senate as a Republican in 2010 but lost to Marco Rubio in the primary. Crist quit the Republican Party, ran in the general election as an independent and lost. He switched party affiliation again, becoming a Democrat, and ran unsuccessfully for governor against Rick Scott in 2014.

The 43-year-old Jolly has his own complications. He earlier had announced he would run for U.S. Senate, but when Rubio dropped out of the presidential race and said he would run for re-election, Jolly got out of that race.

Jolly says his biggest accomplishments are taking on campaign finance reform and backing a bill that would prohibit members of Congress from directly soliciting campaign contributions.

Jolly set himself apart from many Republicans by refusing to fundraise for the national party while working in Washington. And he refuses to endorse Trump.

“I’ve been fully abandoned by the Republican Party,” Jolly said. Still, he’s done pretty well with fundraising; as of Sept. 30, he’s raised $1.75 million to Crist’s $1.4 million. But Crist is getting help from the Democratic Party and other political action committees.

And Trump has become another flashpoint in the campaign.

In September, Jolly released a video that says Trump helped Crist raise money several times when Crist was a Republican.

And the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee aired television ads using doctored photos to make it appear Jolly and Trump are pals. Only this week did Crist denounce the ad.

That negative ad turned some Crist voters off.

“I may end up voting for Jolly out of spite for the Democrats putting out negative information,” said Joe Jordan, a 36-year-old IT professional.

Crist touts his record on education, the economy and the environment, and says he supports a woman’s right to choose.

In the St. Petersburg park, he smiles at Velva Lee Heraty and her miniature Shih Tzu. Heraty shows him photos of when he walked little Miss Nena outside a cafe.

“That was two years ago,” Heraty says.

Crist gives her a serious look. That’s when Gov. Scott defeated him by a single percentage point.

“Two years ago. We’re hoping for a better result this time,” Crist says.

Republished with permission of the Associated Press.

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