Hillary Clinton Archives - Page 7 of 166 - Florida Politics

Darryl Paulson: Selecting party chairs: The Florida experience

(Part 2 of 2)

 In the first part of this series, I discussed the process and candidates used by the Republican and Democratic parties to select their national party chairperson. We will now look at the process and candidates used to choose the Florida Republican and Democratic chairs.

After a disastrous showing by the Florida Democratic Party in the 2016 election, a fate which has become all too common for the party, the chair of the Florida Democratic Party decided not to seek a second term. Like recent Democratic Party chairs, Allison Tant agreed that “one and done” was the proper course of action.

Given Donald Trump‘s Florida victory, as well as a better than expected showing by Republicans in the Congressional and state legislative races, one might have expected incumbent party chair, Blaise Ingoglia, to be a cinch for re-election. That is not the case. Ingoglia faces opposition from Christian Zeigler, a Sarasota County Republican State Committeeman.

The race pits House member Ingoglia versus Senate Republicans who do not want the House and Speaker Richard Corcoran to control the supply of money. It also pits Gov. Rick Scott against party pragmatists.

Scott was incensed in 2015 when his choice to lead the party, Leslie Dougher, was defeated by Ingoglia. This rare rebuke of a governor’s prerogative to select the party chair, resulted in Scott telling donors to give money to his political action committee, Let’s Get to Work, instead of to the Republican Party of Florida. Senate Republicans pulled $800,000 out of the GOP account.

Twenty years ago, the Florida Republican Party, under the leadership of Tom Slade, was considered to be the premier state party organization in the nation. Today, after the fiasco of the previous chair Jim Greer and the efforts of Scott to decimate the state Republican Party, it more closely resembles the Keystone Kops.

At the very least, it more closely resembles Democratic Party operations (and that is faint praise).

Although the Florida Republican Party operations have been a mess for a number of years, the Democrats are approaching its third decade as a nonfunctioning party organization. The Democrats, due to their poor showing, have had a difficult time recruiting quality candidates and raising sufficient funds to support their efforts.

The Democrats lack of success at the polls has accelerated party squabbles. Every Democrat is looking for someone to blame for their poor showing, and the party chair is the easiest person to blame. The pettiness of Democrats can be seen in the 2016 election, where several potential Democratic candidates for chair were defeated in internal elections.

Alan Clendenin, Susannah Randolph, and Annette Taddeo were all defeated in races they needed to win to run for chair. The winner of the battle for state committeeman between Stephen Bittel and Dwight Bullard in Dade County will determine which candidate will run for party chairperson.

After losing the race for state committeeman in Hillsborough County after a controversial ruling by the county chair, Clendenin has moved to Bradford County in North Florida and was sworn in as the committeeman for Bradford County, making him once again eligible to run for state party chairperson.

Clendenin lost the election for the Democratic chair four years ago when he lost to outgoing chair Allison Tant by 139 votes.

It appears that Bittel is emerging as the last man standing, although there is still sufficient time for his campaign to be torpedoed. Bittel has been a major Democratic donor, which has led some Democrats to accuse him of trying to buy the position of chair.

Sen. Bill Nelson, the only statewide elected Democrat who will be up for election in 2018, says: “I think Stephen Bittel would bring that type of professionalism to the organization. We need a professional to run the organization and raise money.”

Bittel received a surprise endorsement from Keith Ellison, who is running for National Democratic Party chair. Ellison supported Bernie Sanders during the Democratic presidential primary, while Bittel was a backer of Hillary Clinton. One Revolution, an organization of Sanders supporters, has announced its support for Bullard, saying that “An extremely wealthy donor wants to buy his way to lead Florida’s Democratic Party and the only thing between him and control of the party is our political revolution.”

Bittel also won the endorsements of the Florida Educational Association and the Florida Service Employees Union, two important constituency groups within the Democratic Party.

Ingoglia, the incumbent Republican Party chair, is backed by Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater, Sen. Marco Rubio and Susie Wiles, who managed Trump’s campaign in Florida. Wiles said that “I can say that the organization built under chairman Ingoglia’s leadership was a critical element in our success.”

With that backing and the Republican success in 2016, Ingoglia should be favored. But, with Scott sitting on the sidelines, he is really encouraging Republicans to back Zeigler.

On the Democratic side, no one should be foolish enough to predict what Florida Democrats will do. After all, they seldom know what they are doing.

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Darryl Paulson is Professor Emeritus of Government at USF St. Petersburg.

Fact check: Florida not recounting election votes

A story claiming Florida is set to recount votes in the presidential election because of fraud is untrue.

The story posted on bipartisanreport.com on Dec. 6 was headlined: “Florida Moves For FULL RECOUNT Of State Over Massive Voter Fraud.” It received more than 73,000 likes, comments or shares on Facebook before it was removed from the site.

The story cited a report from the Tallahassee Democrat, which was republished by the Detroit Free Press, on a lawsuit filed on behalf of three central Florida voters. The voters alleged hacking, malfunctioning voting machines and other problems and demanded a recount of every paper ballot in the state.

A judge refused to issue an order to prevent electors from casting ballots for Republican President-elect Donald Trump. A higher court upheld that ruling Friday.

Trump beat Democrat Hillary Clinton in Florida by more than 112,000 votes.

Florida’s secretary of state certified the election results on Nov. 22 and no elections officials have moved for a recount.

Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

Darryl Paulson: Selecting the national party chairperson

(First of two parts)

The state and national elections are over. At least most of them are over. Still to be decided is the person who will chair the Florida and national party organizations. Is it much ado about nothing, or do party chairs make a difference?

Selecting the party chairperson is normally easier for the victorious party. Whoever wins the governorship or presidency usually can handpick the leader of the party. This was not the case in 2015 when Republican Gov. Rick Scott‘s choice to head the Florida Republican Party, Leslie Dougher, was defeated by challenger Blaise Ignoglia.

After winning the presidential race against Hillary Clinton, President-Elect Donald Trump selected Ronna Romney McDaniel to head the Republican Party. McDaniel, the niece of Mitt Romney, replaces party chair Reince Priebus who was chosen to be Trump’s chief of staff. McDaniel served as chairwoman of the Michigan Republican Party and played a key role in Michigan voting for the Republican presidential nominee for the first time since 1988.

McDaniel will become only the second woman to chair the Republican Party, the other being Mary Louise Smith, who was appointed by President Gerald Ford to head the party in 1974. The 168 members of the Republican National Committee will confirm McDaniel at their January 2017 meeting.

With the surprising loss of Hillary Clinton, the race for party chair is wide open. As the outgoing president, Barack Obama can influence, but not select the incoming party chair. As the losing candidate, Clinton will have no voice in picking the new head of the party.

The last Democratic Party Chair, Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida, left the position in the midst of widespread controversy. Bernie Sanders supporters accused Wasserman Schultz of blatant favoritism for Clinton. The scarcity of Democratic presidential primary debates and the scheduling of those debates at non-prime viewing times was a major criticism of Wasserman Schultz.

The final straw occurred when WikiLeaks released emails from the Democratic National Committee (DNC) showing favoritism for Clinton, led to Schultz’s resignation at the close of the Democratic convention. Her fate was sealed when Schultz was loudly booed after addressing the Florida delegation and agreed not to gavel open the convention.

Donna Brazile was selected as interim chair of the Democratic Party until a permanent chair is elected by the DNC at its February meeting. The selection of a new party chair may help mend divisions within the party, or it may further divide the party and lead to an internal civil war between the establishment and progressive forces. Three months ago, everyone thought this would be a battle that Republicans, and not Democrats would be facing. Brazile warned Democrats that they need to “pick ourselves up” and not “pick each other apart.”

If an establishment candidate wins, the progressives will be angered that their views have been once again neglected by the party and some may seek to form their own political movement. If the progressives win, the Democrats run the risk of moving too far to the left and moving even further away from voters who gravitated to Trump. A similar problem confronted Democrats in the 1970s and 1980s when Republicans effectively branded Democrats as “San Francisco Democrats” who moved too far to the left.

Among the potential Democratic Party Chair candidates are South Carolina Democratic Party Chair Jaime Harrison and New Hampshire Party Chair Ray Buckley, along with Minnesota Congressman Keith Ellison.

On December 15, Secretary of Labor Tom Perez announced his candidacy for party chair, and many believe he is the preferred candidate of President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden.

Ellison is backed by the progressive wing of the party and has the endorsement of Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders. He is also supported by the outgoing Democratic leader in the Senate, Harry Reid, as well as the incoming leader, Chuck Schumer.

Critics have several concerns about an Ellison candidacy. As the only Muslim member of Congress, some are concerned that Dems will be accused of engaging in identity politics with a group that is not trusted by many American voters. Ellison’s writings have been critical of Israel and supportive of Louis Farrakhan and the Black Muslims. Ellison supported Farrakhan after he was attacked for his racist and anti-Semitic views, as well as his support for a separate state for blacks.

Another problem for Ellison is an issue that faced Wasserman Schultz. Can a sitting member of Congress have the time for both jobs and doesn’t that create conflicts of interest? Sen. Bill Nelson of Florida, among others, has said the Democrats need a full-time chair. As a result of this criticism, Ellison has vowed to resign his congressional seat if selected as party chair.

Former presidential candidate and former Democratic Party Chairman Howard Dean flirted with serving as chair before backing away. Former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm‘s name was often mentioned for the job, but she has announced that she is supporting Perez, the most recent candidate to enter the field.

Where Romney McDaniel has the race for Republican Party Chair all wrapped-up, the Democratic field is wide open, and some of the announced candidates may drop out before the February vote of the DNC; others may enter the race if they see all of the current candidates unable to attract widespread support.

Also, Democrats have had a dual chair system before, so it is possible that both an establishment and progressive candidate might emerge. Wouldn’t that make things fun?

(Part 2: Selecting the Florida party chairs)

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Darryl Paulson is Professor Emeritus of Government at USF St. Petersburg.

 

Martin Dyckman: In post-truth America, responsible news more important than ever

There’s a scene in the musical “Chicago” that could be adopted virtually intact when they make the one I’d call “Trumpistan.”

It’s the number in which a cunning criminal defense attorney, Billy Flynn, works the press as a chorus of puppets, dangling from strings, as they dance to his tune and parrot his words.

That Donald Trump did that with much of the media is, aside from the result itself, one of the two most uncomfortable truths about the 2016 election. The other is that truth itself didn’t matter to enough people.

The media is many things, as Washington Post Executive Editor Martin Baron remarked in a commencement speech last week. It ranges from responsible entities such as his paper and The New York Times to social media posts that are accountable to no one and are petri dishes for fake news. In between are the cable networks that let Trump mesmerize them.

The Post and the Times reported heroically. So did many others. As Baron put it, the mistake was in not catching on to how Trump’s bombast was working.

But as he added, “There were some lapses … For one, cable networks should not give any candidate hours upon hours of live coverage for virtually every rally held. That is not journalism.”

“All that breathless cable coverage of Trump’s Twitter wars and the live shots of his plane landing on the tarmac didn’t help either,” writes Susan B. Glasser, who edited POLITICO during the campaign, in a Brookings Institution essay, “Covering Politics in a ‘Post-Truth’ America.” Read it here.

Certain print and network editors relentlessly led their front pages and TV screens with more pictures and coverage of Trump than he deserved or any other candidate could command. He was, of course, the most repulsively hypnotic and the most outrageous. But for every voter put off by his mean looks and his lies, there was another who said, “Yeah!”

Trump played the media like a pipe organ. He also made it his foil, with nonstop attacks — still continuing — on what it said about his policies, his reckless tweets, and even his hotels and restaurants. Calling out, sometimes by name, the reporters who covered his rallies, he worked the crowds to frenzies and put the journalists in fear of their lives.

Glasser’s essay details the other uncomfortable truth of the election — that truth itself is losing its potency.

” …(T) he media scandal of 2016 isn’t so much about what reporters failed to tell the American public; it’s about what they did report on, and the fact that it didn’t seem to matter,” she writes. “Stories that would have killed any other politician — truly worrisome revelations about everything from the federal taxes Trump dodged to the charitable donations he lied about, the women he insulted and allegedly assaulted, and the mob ties that have long dogged him — did not stop Trump from thriving in this election year. Even fact-checking perhaps the most untruthful candidate of our lifetime didn’t work; the more news outlets did it, the less the facts resonated. Americans are increasingly choosing to live in a cloud of like-minded spin, surrounded by the partisan political hackery and fake news that poisons their Facebook feeds.”

Trump means to keep feeding on that. His postelection tour has been only to states that he won; he could not care less about voters elsewhere who saw him for what he is. Many of his voters don’t believe even the unanimous view of our intelligence agencies that Russia influenced the election. Trying to tell them otherwise recalls the old adage and attempting to teach a pig to sing: it does nothing but frustrate you and annoy the pig.

Glasser cites a Pew Research Center report that most Americans got their information from questionable sources. Social media were the primary source for 35 people age 29 and under. For those over 50, the leading source was cable TV. Among conservatives, nearly 50 percent relied only on Fox.

Trump’s percentage of the popular vote is 47th lowest among the last 49 election winners. Hillary Clinton led by nearly 3-million votes. But a half of all Republicans say they believe Trump won the popular vote. They will never believe otherwise because they just don’t want to.

If you’re looking for a simple solution to America’s crisis of willful ignorance, I don’t have one.

To paraphrase Winston Churchill, it’s too late for tears; the hour calls for ceaseless toil and copious sweat. We can’t persuade those who will not hear. Our call, rather, is to work harder to win the Electoral College as well as the popular vote in the next election and to take back the Congress. We need to work tirelessly to remind policymakers in Congress and capitols that the truth still matters to more people than those who ignore it, and remind them that Trump has nothing resembling a “mandate.”

Emails and calls to Congress cost nothing. The First Amendment belongs as much to the individual citizen as to the media. Use it.

And subscribe, if you don’t already, to a responsible newspaper or two. You need newspapers now, more than ever. They need you now, more than ever.

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Martin Dyckman is a retired associate editor of the Tampa Bay Times. He lives in North Carolina.

Mitch Perry Report for 12.19.16 – Florida electors feel the heat while the rest of the nation freezes

Florida’s 29 Republican presidential electors gather in Tallahassee today to vote for well, presumably for Donald Trump, who defeated Hillary Clinton by 1.2 percent in the Sunshine State on November 8.

While the world awaits to see if there’s any movement with the 290 nationwide Republican electors, our electors will be voting in perfect conditions, with the forecast set for 65 degrees today in the Capitol.

That’s a far cry from the weather conditions of electors from much of the country today, and should be noted.

More than three dozen record low temperatures were set in the Midwest and Plains this past weekend with actual air temperatures in the 20s and 30s below zero, while wind chills plunged into the minus 40s and even a few 50s at times in some cities. Subzero low temperatures were observed as far south as Oklahoma and the Texas Panhandle Sunday morning. Huron, South Dakota and Marshall, Minnesota each set a record yesterday at 31 degrees below zero.

I’ve got the air-conditioning running in my home this morning, which, let’s face it, sort of kills the whole Christmas/holiday feeling. But I’ll refrain from complaining when I see the images of multi-car pileups and outright deaths around the nation due to icy road conditions.

Back when this presidential season really kicked into high gear – this past February in New Hampshire, I dealt with an inclement weather situation that, well, not to be dramatic, could have killed me.

On the Friday before the first primary in the nation, New Hampshire was rocked by a blizzard that, frankly, freaked me out. Considering I’ve only lived in San Francisco and Tampa, I haven’t dealt with a lot of snow conditions. Sheltered yes, but the fact is, I almost died driving down a turnpike from Manchester to Nashua, when I hit my brakes and went skidding over the road.

Yes, it’s annoying not to really get into the Christmas spirit when you have to turn your air conditioner on, but considering what it’s like in 80 percent of the rest of the country, those of us waking up today in Florida are damned fortunate folks.

As far as Florida’s electors? Yes, their feeling some intense pressure to reconsider voting for Trump. But none of them say they’re going to flip, so while there will be a lot of press coverage on this today, is it really that big of an event?

In other news..

The Hillsborough County Public Transportation Commission is closer to extinction after a vote by the local state delegation.

South Florida Democrat Tim Canova says he may run again against Debbie Wasserman Schultz in 2018.

Hillsborough Clerk of the Circuit Courts Pat Frank got in the local delegation’s face on Friday calling for more funding for her office.

And Alan Grayson is not completely done in Washington. On Friday he announced two bills trying to hold Donald Trump accountable.

In Tampa, Bill Nelson calls Russia hack on DNC email server “closer to an act of war”

U.S. Senator Bill Nelson on Thursday called the Russian hacking into the Democratic National Committee’s email system an unprecedented outrage that is “closer and closer to an act of war.”

Speaking to reporters at his Tampa district office, the Florida Democrat made his most outspoken comments about the continuing to evolve story, which a new level of attention last Friday, when the Washington Post reported that the CIA had concluded in a secret assessment that Russia intervened in the 2016 election to help Donald Trump win the presidency, rather than just to undermine confidence in the U.S. electoral system.

“Not only is this an outrage, this is unprecedented. This is crossing the line, closer and closer to an act of war,” Nelson said, adding that hacking information to influence an election is damaging to the integrity of an election.

“I think there’s going to be serious ramifications of this, regardless of where you hear that different people in the intelligence community have differing opinions,” he said. “Listen: When there is a high consensus of high confidence, that’s the highest level of acceptance of intelligence. And that consensus is out of the CIA? I believe it.”

U.S. Representative Kathy Castor was also condemning the hacking into the DNC and Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta’s email server account on Thursday.

“The United States must hold Russia accountable for cyberattacks against our country, our electoral system and the private intellectual property of American businesses,” she said in a statement. “These Russian cyberattacks were not a move against any one party, they were a move against our nation and all Americans. The United States also should consider broader sanctions against the Russian government following a robust, bipartisan investigation to confirm the extent and identities of responsible individuals, including Vladimir Putin himself. “

Castor also lashed out at President-elect Trump’s laissez faire attitude towards the Russians in this story. “President-Elect Trump should reassess his knowledge and rhetoric towards Russia and be more circumspect in maintaining the dignity of the office upon which he is about to enter,” she said. “America must stand strong and not capitulate to Russia and President Putin and their often malicious ends.”

At his press conference, Nelson was asked by this reporter if any of Trump’s selections to his Cabinet gave him pause. Nelson referred to Arizona Senator John McCain’s concerns, but not his own.

“You take John McCain – he’s got some serious problems so we want to see what through the examination of the testimony to what degree does his friendship and past business dealings with Russia and Putin how would that possibly affect him in representing the national securith of this interests as Secretary of State, and I look forward to that inquiry.”

There are now at least 54 of the 232 Democratic presidential electors who are now calling on national intelligence director James Clapper to authorize a briefing ahead of the Electoral College’s meeting on Dec. 19 to elect the next president. Only one Republican — Texas’ Chris Suprun — has joined their call.

Nelson said it wasn’t going to happen, and that it shouldn’t happen.

The electors are not going to be granted access to the deepest secrets of this country,” he summarily stated on Thursday. “They’re going to have to go on and do their constitutional duty, regardless of them being able to be briefed on intelligence matters. Just to be able to receive classified information, a person has to go thru an extreme vetting process to make sure that there’s nothing in their background that would then compromise that information in the future. That’s simply not going to happen between now and next Monday.”

Martin Dyckman: The Red Menace redux

Early in the Cold War, Hollywood was targeted by politicians and flag-waving pundits who accused Communists in the motion picture media of trying to subvert the United States with pro-Soviet propaganda.

Hundreds of people were blacklisted and 10, including the Oscar-winning screenwriter Dalton Trumbo, went to prison for refusing to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee.

The 2015 film “Trumbo” deals with that episode and how the blacklist finally was broken.

There was never any evidence, though, that the Hollywood Ten had accomplished anything more dramatic than joining what was a legal political party.

But 70 years later, the Kremlin has exploited a more modern mass medium — the internet — to subvert the United States to the extent that Josef Stalin, the Soviet dictator, could not have imagined.

If owning a piece of the American president-elect isn’t subversion, what ever could be?

The Soviet Union is history. Russia, its largest component, is now nominally capitalist rather than communist.

But its president, Vladimir Putin, who is not much less of a tyrant than Stalin was, is hellbent on rebuilding the Soviet empire, one piece at a time — first Ukraine, then Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania. No nation in Eastern Europe is safe.

Toward that end, Putin is intent on destabilizing if not demolishing NATO, the American-led alliance that won the Cold War — or so we thought.

Nothing could be more helpful to Putin than an American president who is disinterested in NATO, and whose chosen secretary of state — the recipient of a high honor from Putin himself — personifies a historic conflict of interest. Rex W. Tillerson presently heads ExxonMobil, which had an Arctic drilling deal with Putin that was blocked by U.S. economic sanctions over the aggression in Ukraine.

If those sanctions are off the table, ExxonMobil stands to make billions from Russian oil. Blind trust or not, Tillerson would be in line for enormous stock profits, not to mention the moral disaster of legitimizing Putin’s conduct.

Donald Trump is more than merely a friend and apologist for the new Russian tyrant. The income tax returns he has yet to release despite promises may conceal massive debts to Russian banks. His national security adviser took money to go to Moscow to sit beside Putin at a ceremony honoring him.

The evidence is overwhelming that Russia hacked the Democratic National Committee and other targets to selectively leak information damaging to Hillary Clinton‘s campaign and helpful to Trump.

The intelligence agencies have consensus on that. The only disagreement is whether Russia meant to actually elect Trump or only to shatter faith in the American election process. What’s the difference? The result is what matters. Whether Putin’s cyber warfare actually tipped the election to Trump is beside the point. At the very least, it helped immensely—and Trump knows it.

The proof of that is his savage denunciation Saturday of the intelligence agencies that will soon be under his control. Although he’s been too busy holding Nuremberg-style victory rallies to attend intelligence briefings, his transition dismissed the consensus as coming from “the same people who said Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction.”

That they were wrong then doesn’t mean that they’re wrong now. Or does Trump think the Democrats hacked themselves?

He should have said something like this:

“I denounce and deplore any foreign intervention in our election, and I strongly support a bipartisan investigation by the Congress.”

But by simply denying the evidence, without proof, Trump tacitly concedes Russia’s guilt and his own debt.

For frightening insight into the perils of the internet, see The Atlantic’s November cover story—published before the election—”How Social Media Got Weaponized: War in the Digital Age.'” It is well worth your time. Here’s the link.

War is not too strong a term for it, even if the aggression was carried out remotely.

It’s not just Russia that has made the internet into a theater of war. ISIL’s mastery of the medium has figured hugely in terrorizing targeted populations in Iraq and Syria and in recruiting adherents in Britain, America and elsewhere.

The article describes in detail how the Kremlin assigned vast resources “to studying the finer details of how the internet works, coordinated by the Russian Federal Security Service—the successor to the KGB.”

The Russian cyber warriors do more than hack. They post false news stories, troll people who post comments critical of Russia, and do everything imaginable to undermine faith in western institutions including election processes.

“Russia’s infiltration and invasion of Crimea and eastern Ukraine was preceded by a relentless online campaign to stoke pro-Russian protests and cast the new (Western-friendly) Ukrainian government as, quite literally, a bunch of Nazis,” the article says.

According to The New York Times, Russia is suspected of planting child pornography on the computers of critics whom it wants to destroy.

In Charleston, meanwhile, a young man is on trial for his life for the murders of nine people at a church that had welcomed him to a Bible study session. Dylann Roof has said he was inspired by racist content on the internet. In Washington, another young man awaits trial for an armed invasion of a pizza parlor where — he had read on the internet — Hillary Clinton was participating in a child sex slavery ring.

Every invention can be a tool for evil as well as good. In the case of the internet, it’s the evil side that seems to be winning.

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Martin Dyckman is a retired associate editor of the newspaper now known as the Tampa Bay Times. He lives in North Carolina.

Deb Tamargo battles Jonny Torres for future control of Hillsborough County Republican Party

November 8 was a pretty great night for Florida Republicans.

For the first time since 2004, the Sunshine State went red in the presidential race; Marco Rubio easily won re-election in his race for the U.S. Senate. And despite the redistricting of every state Senate seat, the GOP lost no seats in the Legislature’s upper chamber.

One not so bright place for the GOP was in Hillsborough County, where Hillary Clinton won decisively against Donald Trump, putting a dent into the county’s reputation as a reliable bellwether for the presidential race.

Now Hillsborough County Republican Executive Committee Chair Deb Tamargo is being challenged in her bid for another two-year term by her second vice chair, Jonny Torres. The two engaged in an hourlong debate Wednesday night at La Teresita Restaurant, sponsored by the Hispanic Republican Club of Hillsborough County.

It began amicably enough, with Tamargo confessing that while the party could have apparently fared better in the election, it’s never been in better shape when it comes to issues like transparency and accountability. Torres agreed with her that party members have a stronger voice than under previous party chairs. But that would be the last time the two agreed on virtually anything the rest of the evening.

“The reason I’m running is there are candidates who were unsuccessful and elected officials who really felt that they were on their own,” Torres said flatly. “They weren’t getting the kind of support financially or with volunteer efforts.”

“I have to disagree with Jonny that we did not provide candidate support because we provided more candidate support than in previous years,” Tamargo replied. And she challenged Torres to name names of unhappy Republican candidates.

Torres responded that he has been endorsed in the race by Hillsborough Republican state House members Ross Spano, Dan Raulerson and Jamie Grant and said there were more“Out of respect to Chairwoman Tamargo, not everyone is willing to step forward,” he said. “What I keep hearing from the campaigns and the consultants time and time again is that they saw little to no members from the REC supporting their efforts.”

Tamargo strongly disagreed, saying that she knew that virtually everyone in the room had worked on the campaigns of at least one of the several Republicans who were on the ballot last month. She boasted of having the ability to fund first-time candidates for the first time, as well as providing slate cards, messaging and campaign “walkers” who went door to door to advocate for Republicans.

There are approximately 39,000 more registered Democrats than Republicans in Hillsborough County today. Some of that is attributable to the growing Latino population in the county, a demographic that both candidates agreed needs more attention from the Republican Party. But that led to another dispute about how much of that outreach has already occurred.

Tamargo said that the Hillsborough County REC for the first time had purchased airtime on urban radio and Spanish-language radio, and made those spots available for all candidates. “Some made themselves available, some did not,” she added.

Torres, who worked on Hispanic outreach in the Tampa Bay area for the Republican National Committee in 2015, said the most important thing was for the party to simply show up at events designed around the Hispanic community.

Approximately 50 people gathered to watch the debate, with the crowd occasionally making remarks indicating their support for a specific candidate.

During the Q&A session, the two candidates were asked how much time they would have available to chair the committee each week (the position is a voluntary one).

“I dedicated more than 40 hours a week to the mission,” said Tamargo. “I’m a workaholic. I can’t balance very well.”

With a full-top job and a family, Torres said he couldn’t specify exactly how much time he’d have available. He said he looked up to other GOP chairs like Blaise Ingoglia (the chair of the Republican Party of Florida), Joe Gruters or Nick DiCeglie, but then attempted to put the focus back on Tamargo. “No one can take away the hours, but what do we have to show for it? My philosophy is that we work smarter, not harder.”

The two also voter registration numbers, with Torres saying that Tamargo waited too to begin an all-out effort this year. Tamargo said she actively began those efforts a year-and-a-half ago. Torres says he would hire a political director to concentrate on those efforts year round.

Members of the Hillsborough County Republican Executive Committee will decide between Tamargo and Torres on December 20.

Blake Dowling: Amazon Go storefront, the next big disruption in retail, society

When it comes to the home theater experience, we used to rent movies from Blockbuster and Movie Gallery. VHS came and went. Then DVD, which is gone (for the most part).

In regards to transportation, there are still taxi cabs out there, but everyone I know contacts Uber to get a ride.

Have you bought a CD lately? I know plenty of music execs who wish they could turn back the clock when there were huge margins on tapes, LPs and CDs.

And in the world of politics, Hillary Clinton was all set to become President, but here we are.

Granted the last one isn’t so much about technology but, for whatever reason, the experts didn’t see it coming.

Disruption can take on many forms.

We now have a new one, which is about to ruffle some serious feathers and it won’t just affect grocery stores, but retail in general.

Imagine a grocery store experience where you just walk into and grab what you need and leave. It’s opening in 2017. It’s called Amazon Go. It’s real, so to all the experts out there, take note.

Here’s how it works: After entering the store, you scan an app. Select items to put into your cart and the store tracks what you pick up. You already have an Amazon account, so it’s just a matter of sensors tracking you correctly.

The Amazon Go storefront is small; it is not a Wal-Mart type of set up. It has essentials and — for downtown residents of a major city — it seems like a perfect fit.

For example, I was shopping at Publix on Spring Street this past weekend, just before the SEC Game in Atlanta. If you could take the lines and congestion out of that place on a busy day, it would be wicked.

The ways in which this type of disruption would affect retail (and our society) seem to be endless. Where to start on the domino effect? Let’s see there are over 3 million cashiers employed in our country making minimum wage. With that wage about to go up, retail execs are bound to be thinking can’t we automate this? The self-checkout kiosks were just the beginning of a labor issue for the cashiers.

What about criminals? Those who misbehave with tech are drooling over this as well. Credit card numbers and personal info are being zapped around rampantly.

Or what about someone just walking into the Amazon Go store without scanning the app. In that scenario, I could imagine some rambunctious teens stealing beer. In this kind of world, I suppose you must have a significant security presence.

How will other stores catch up? Publix, for instance, doesn’t have your credit card info on file. And, personally, I don’t want them to have it.

In the past four years, I have had two credit cards digitally stolen. The first time it happened, American Express did an excellent job notifying me via the AMX app. Once I declined the purchase through the app, I soon received a phone call with details.

In hindsight, it was kind of funny: “Mr. Dowling, are you in Milan attempting to purchase a fur coat?”

That would be a negative, boss. Thanks for the heads up.

The other incident was more recent; the local bank involved was just as meticulous.

Hopefully, these types of stores will offer anti-skimming devices throughout the location to block the possibility of digital theft.

This is going to be a significant movement, and all eyes will be on both Amazon and this Seattle storefront to see where they succeed and where they fail.

Disruption never stops; who knows what’s next?

Personally, a grocery store with no line sounds like heaven. Clean up on aisle 4, LOL.

___

Blake Dowling is CEO of Aegis Business Technologies in Tallahassee; he writes columns for several organizations. You can contact him at dowlingb@aegisbiztech.com.

Ahead for Michelle Obama? Figuring out what comes next

It’ll be one of the most watched midlife career changes in recent memory. What does Michelle Obama do next?

After eight years as a high-profile advocate against childhood obesity, a sought-after talk show guest, a Democratic power player and a style maven, the first lady will have her pick of options when she leaves the White House next month.

In this photo taken Oct. 18, 2016, President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama waits to greet Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and his wife Agnese Landini on the North Portico for a State Dinner at the White House in Washington. What does Michelle Obama do next? After eight years as a high-profile advocate against childhood obesity, a sought-after talk show guest, a Democratic power player and a style maven, the first lady will have her pick of options when she leaves the White House next month. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Just as the first lady’s role is undefined, with each woman molding it to her personality, interests and comfort level, there is no script for what comes after the first lady finishes the job.

The widowed Jacqueline Kennedy remarried and became a New York book editor. Laura Bush continues her advocacy for literacy, women in Afghanistan and preservation issues. Hillary Clinton launched her own political career with her bid for the U.S. Senate, even before her family left the White House.

Here’s a look at what Mrs. Obama is likely to do, or not do, when at 53 years old she becomes a private citizen again on Jan. 20.

LIKELY TO DO:

R & R

President Barack Obama says he’s taking her on a “really nice vacation, because she deserves it. She’s been putting up with me for quite some time.” (Twenty-four years of marriage, to be exact.)

WRITE A MEMOIR

FILE — In this Oct. 27, 2016 file photo, first lady Michelle Obama takes the stage with then-Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, during a campaign rally at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, N.C. What does Michelle Obama do next? After eight years as a high-profile advocate against childhood obesity, a sought-after talk show guest, a Democratic power player and a style maven, the first lady will have her pick of options when she leaves the White House next month. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)

Practically all first ladies do. As the first black woman in the role and as someone who has said little publicly about her private life in the White House, book publishers would offer to pay millions for the rights to Mrs. Obama’s insider account. Clinton got an $8 million advance for her 2003 memoir, “Living History.”

SET UP HER FAMILY’S NEW HOME

Breaking from post-presidential tradition, the Obamas plan to stay in Washington so their 15-year-old daughter, Sasha, can finish high school. Presidents usually leave Washington when they leave office, but the Obamas are renting a home in the wealthy Kalorama neighborhood, near what will be the official residence of Vice President-elect Mike Pence. The home is large enough to be a hub of social activity, but it’s far from clear whether Mrs. Obama will become Washington’s new power hostess. Ex-presidents tend to keep a low profile in the first year or so after they leave office.

The Obamas also still own a home in Chicago.

STICK WITH HER INITIATIVES

FILE — In this Oct. 5, 2016 file photo, a new paver etched with markings “White House Kitchen Garden” is seen at the entrance to the White House Kitchen Garden at the White House in Washington. What does Michelle Obama do next After eight years as a high-profile advocate against childhood obesity, a sought-after talk show guest, a Democratic power player and a style maven, the first lady will have her pick of options when she leaves the White House next month. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta, File)

Mrs. Obama has said she’ll stay engaged in public service and will keep working on the issues she focused on during her tenure. They included childhood obesity and education for girls around the world.

“I’ve always felt very alive using my gifts and talents to help other people. I sleep better at night. I’m happier,” she told Vogue for an interview in the fashion magazine’s December issue. “So we’ll look back at the issues that I’ve been working on. The question is: How do I engage in those issues from a new platform? I can’t say right now, because we can’t spend that much time really doing the hard work of vetting offers or ideas or options because we’re still closing things out here.”

COULD DO:

JOIN SPEAKER’S CIRCUIT

Mrs. Obama put her oratory on display with a well-received speech on opening night of the 2016 Democratic National Convention. She followed up with a series of campaign speeches criticizing Republican Donald Trump, now the president-elect, as unsuitable for the nation’s highest office. Her friend, media mogul Oprah Winfrey, said the first lady will be “one of the most in-demand speakers” as a result of her convention performance. “That speaking fee just quadrupled,” Winfrey joked during an interview with The Associated Press.

Clinton earned millions of dollars giving paid speeches after she stepped down as secretary of state. Laura Bush also keeps a robust public speaking schedule.

In this photo taken Dec. 1, 2016, first lady Michelle Obama and President Barack Obama watch the musical performances at the 2016 National Christmas Tree lighting ceremony at the Ellipse near the White House in Washington. What does Michelle Obama do next? After eight years as a high-profile advocate against childhood obesity, a sought-after talk show guest, a Democratic power player and a style maven, the first lady will have her pick of options when she leaves the White House next month. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

HOST A TELEVISION TALK SHOW

Mrs. Obama has demonstrated a knack for talk-show banter, and an ease in front of the TV cameras. She co-hosted “The View” before the 2008 election and recently co-hosted Ellen DeGeneres‘ hourlong gabfest. Roy Ashton, head of television at the Gersh Agency in Los Angeles, says Mrs. Obama would be a “no-brainer” to have a show of her own.

“She could pick up where Oprah left off, or something else,” Ashton said. “I think Michelle Obama has a ton to say.”

SERVE ON CORPORATE BOARDS

She has some experience with corporate America, but she’ll want to choose carefully. Mrs. Obama resigned from the board of a food supplier for Wal-Mart Stores Inc. in 2007, shortly after her husband announced his presidential bid. He had been a critic of the retail giant. Mrs. Obama had cited the increased demands of the campaign for leaving the board of Illinois-based TreeHouse Foods Inc.

“It will be fun to see what she actually does,” said Kimberly Archer, head of the Washington office of Russell Reynolds Associates, an executive search and assessment firm. “Wherever she does decide to focus, I would say, ‘Lucky them.'”

LIKELY WON’T DO:

RUN FOR PUBLIC OFFICE

FILE — In this April 5, 2010 file photo, President Barack Obama, accompanied by first lady Michelle Obama and daughter Malia Obama, reads “Green Eggs and Ham”, as they hosted the annual White House Easter Egg Roll on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington. What does Michelle Obama do next? After eight years as a high-profile advocate against childhood obesity, a sought-after talk show guest, a Democratic power player and a style maven, the first lady will have her pick of options when she leaves the White House next month. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak, File)

Both the president and first lady repeatedly have said she will not run for president — despite pressure from Democrats wowed by her campaign speeches challenging Trump.

Obama has said she doesn’t have “the patience or the inclination” to be a candidate and is “too sensible to want to be in politics.” Mrs. Obama said “No, no. Not going to do it,” when asked earlier this year about following in her husband’s footsteps.

RESUME PRACTICING LAW

Mrs. Obama, a Harvard Law School graduate, practiced at a Chicago firm but abandoned a legal career after the deaths of her father and a close friend. She entered public service, working for the city of Chicago and running an AmeriCorps service program before she joined the University of Chicago Medical Center as a vice president for community and external affairs. It was the last paid position she held before become first lady.

Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

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