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Joe Henderson: Surprised that Mike Fasano supports Joe Biden? You shouldn’t be

The Reagan Republican now calls Donald Trump ‘an embarrassment.’

Mike Fasano is an old-guard Republican in deep-red Pasco County, where he is the Tax Collector. He led Pasco’s Young Republicans, and eventually became Majority Leader of the Florida House and President Pro Temp of the Senate.

Foremost, though, he is a decent human being.

He is close friends with some of Tallahassee’s most powerful members of the GOP. Fasano also has a deserved reputation for standing on principle and thoughtfully speaking his mind.

So, some might have been surprised when Fasano declared Thursday that he is a “Biden Republican” in the presidential race.

I wasn’t.

We chatted recently about another topic, but soon drifted off-topic to Donald Trump. Fasano’s distress was obvious. I can’t say I expected him to release a video broadside against Trump on the day the President held a rally in Tampa, but the timing couldn’t be better.

He called Trump an embarrassment.”

“His lack of decency, compassion, integrity, and patriotism is so far removed from the Reagan Revolution — which included Reagan Democrats and Reagan independents — it’s unrecognizable,” he said.

With the election just days away now, Trump has problems that run deeper than Biden. Moderate Republicans like Fasano are abandoning him and making no secret of why.

There’s no need to run the list of Trump’s greatest hits. For the last four years, we’ve been beaten to exhaustion by his bluster, insults, lack of empathy, incompetence, and lying. One head-shaking news story gives way to another and another before we even have a chance to process the first.

Fasano encapsulated perfectly what this race is about.

It’s much more about decency and honesty than policy differences.

Fasano remains popular in Pasco and his words might cause at least a few undecided people to think twice on Election Day. He never had a problem speaking truth to power.

In 2012, the Senate was divided over a prison privatization plan favored by then-Gov. Rick Scott.

Fasano was head of a subcommittee that oversaw prison budgets. He stood in vocal opposition to the plan. Senate President Mike Haridopolos stripped Fasano of the post, saying Fasano “was not rowing in the same direction” with leadership.

The plan failed.

Fasano had his say, telling MSNBC, “It’s unfortunate when leaders of the Senate can’t lose like gentlemen.”

The word “gentleman” is out of place in this Republican Party. It chooses insults over dialogue and bullying over negotiation.

A guy like Fasano can only take so much of that.

That’s why for the first time he’ll vote for a Democrat as President.

It may be the last time that happens.

However, he’s not cowering. He’s not afraid to stand for what he believes.

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I have a 45-year career in newspapers, including nearly 42 years at The Tampa Tribune. Florida is wacky, wonderful, unpredictable and a national force. It's a treat to have a front-row seat for it all.

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Florida Politics is a statewide, new media platform covering campaigns, elections, government, policy, and lobbying in Florida. This platform and all of its content are owned by Extensive Enterprises Media.

Publisher: Peter Schorsch

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Drew Dixon, Renzo Downey, Rick Flagg, A.G. Gancarski, Joe Henderson, Janelle Irwin, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Scott Powers, Bob Sparks, Andrew Wilson, and Kelly Hayes.
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