Opinions – Florida Politics

Blake Dowling: Net neutrality redux

Net neutrality is back in the news.

There are 2 sides to the issue and everyone is weighing in. Except for the guy from now shall be known as “Shopping Center Man,” found at the 59-second mark of this WCTV News segment from Thursday night in Tallahassee.

When asked what is net neutrality, he says “he forgot” … “and back to you in studio Bob.”

 

Classic.

“I forgot.” That’s one I need to remember.

WCTV was kind enough to visit the office yesterday and asked my humble opinion on the issue, and it’s back to what happened late last year.

In 2015, the Federal Communications Commission classification of the internet changed from that of “information services” to that of a “telecommunications service” — with all the regulatory oversight that comes with it.

That was repealed, until this week, when the Senate said: “No joy.”

Bottom line, there are two sides: one says “trust the government,” the other says “trust business.” Regardless which side you are on, the decision is not up to you.

When I wrote on the issue late last year, I brought in the team at the Florida Internet and Television Association to weigh in. You can check that out by clicking here.

What went down this week was Senate Democrats used the so-called Congressional Review Act to force a vote. This allowed Congress to appeal an agency rule with a majority vote (not the normal 60 vote threshold).

How did they get there? They had help from some Republicans, including Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, whose state certainly has faced challenges with internet connectivity.

Will this matter? It brought the issue of net neutrality back to the table for discussion, but it will probably get punted when it hits the House.

 So, any victory will most likely be short-lived.

From 1996 to 2014, the internet seemed to do just fine — regardless if a Republican or Democrat was in the White House. For a long time, rules were the same.

Perhaps the game has changed? Maybe there is too much connectivity? Too many dollars on the line?

Maybe not.

We need not forget that innovation still needs to take precedence over regulation, as the United States is not the fastest in the world. Most lists put Sweden and South Korea as top countries with the fastest Internet. However, we certainly can’t let Big Business block access to specific sites as they see fit.

We will see how this goes, but (most likely) any changes made will stay on course — we will have to see what happens. As long as I can watch Gator baseball on my iPad, I’m good.

Why is it not on regular TV? I am forced to watch it on an APP? Jeez.

Oh well, there’s always Shopping Center Man to make me smile.

Say hello to Shopping Center Man.

Have a great weekend.

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Blake Dowling is CEO of Aegis Business Technologies. He can be reached at dowlingb@aegisbiztech.com.

Mark Fontaine: DOC makes unwise cuts to substance abuse treatment programs

The Florida Department of Corrections (DOC) is dismantling successful substance abuse and re-entry treatment programs to fix a $28 million shortfall. The shortsighted action will adversely affect communities, offenders and businesses: an action that is totally unacceptable.

DOC Secretary Julie Jones recently announced that 33 community and in-prison substance abuse treatment and housing providers will have their contracts slashed or totally canceled. The total substance abuse reductions are over $22 million with community providers receiving a 43 percent cut and contracted in-prison programs a 48 percent cut.

The loss of substance abuse inmate programs means a greater likelihood of drug and alcohol relapse and a greater chance for repeat criminal offenders. The loss of therapeutic beds means no more graduated re-entry into society and offenders going back into their communities without critical substance abuse treatment. These programs are integral to rehabilitation; these offenders obtain jobs, pay restitution, child support and fines.

The DOC cuts also affect drug courts. Judges’ options to choose a substance abuse diversionary program over a prison sentence will be greatly diminished, thus continuing to crowd Florida’s prison system, and denying treatment to offenders in the community. Inmates currently in diversionary and re-entry programs receiving the cuts will need to be re-sentenced and re-assigned.

The DOC cuts affect every single contracted facility that offers substance abuse treatment and re-entry programs. The providers will lay off more than 600 full-time employees. The promise by the FDC to re-establish programs once money is somehow back in the budget rings hollow with no plan in place to secure funding being lost. Treatment centers have spent years to launch and refine substance abuse treatment programs; they can’t easily be re-established.

Interestingly, the money earmarked for substance abuse treatment before, during, and after incarceration is already in the legislatively approved budget, but the DOC wants to move the approved funds somewhere else. The DOC cites constitutional mandates to provide health care for inmates. The problem is, substance abuse treatment is health care and needs to be considered such by our top leaders.

Financial considerations are also paramount. The cost to house an offender for nine months in a community substance abuse treatment bed is far less than the average 3-year sentence for a drug offender in prison. A community-based approach can easily save the state $30,000 per inmate over the course of a drug-offender sentence.

The loss caused by this action to communities, individuals and businesses is staggering. The Florida Department of Correction cuts to Substance Abuse Treatment Programs (representing just 1.5 percent of the entire FDC’s $2.4 billion budget) should not be happening at all, let alone in the middle of the opioid crisis and the worst drug epidemic the state has ever experienced. Governor Scott and our state leaders need to fix this problem before it’s too late to turn back.

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Mark Fontaine is executive director of the Florida Alcohol & Drug Abuse Association.

Joe Henderson: I go to Publix for groceries, not for politics

Yes, the giant Publix supermarket chain has essentially endorsed Adam Putnam to be Florida’s next governor and has thrown a lot of money into his campaign.

Interesting but, in the big picture, so what?

I find shopping at Publix to be a pleasure, especially when its deli fried chicken is fresh out of the cooker. The stores are clean, the worker bees are helpful, and by the time I reach the checkout line, it doesn’t really matter to me what the company thinks about Putnam or any other politician.

I go there for groceries, not for political advice.

A lot about Putnam’s campaign rhetoric has been troubling, especially that “elitist liberal” crap in his latest TV ad, the one that trumpets his Bartow roots, complete with hay bailing.

Guess what, Adam? I bailed hay too, back in the day. I rolled sod. I recapped tires for $2 an hour. I don’t think that qualifies me to lead the state.

Adam.

Please.

Stop with the liberal bashing. You are better than this.

Aren’t you?

But I also understand primary politics today, which basically forces candidates in either party to prove they can appeal to the almighty base. That’s true of Democrats as well as Republicans, and it’s a big part of why politics today is so partisan.

The “base” is filled with dedicated voters who would turn out if the primary was held at midnight on a Thursday during a hurricane. To win the nomination, a candidate has to show he or she can be just as extreme and uncompromising as anyone in the base.

Then the general election comes and everything changes. That’s when the everyday voter, with concerns that include politics but don’t exclude everything else, turns out.

And if Democrats can somehow ride a blue wave and gain control of the state Senate – even if they aren’t successful in winning the Governor’s mansion — having the political savvy to work with the other side will be important.

By that time, I don’t think anyone worth a rat’s patooie will care if whoever wins the race was endorsed by Publix or anyone else.

The issues in Florida are going to be the same for a while – health care, guns, schools, transportation.

The question for all candidates is how do they plan to address those things, not their stance on weekly BOGOs.

If it’s going to be a strictly agenda-based administration, on either side, then people might want to stick their heads under the covers for the next four years.

Rick Scott won two terms by about 1 percentage point each time. I wouldn’t call that a mandate, but Republicans – with the help of gerrymandered districts in the House and Senate – treated it that way and rammed through laws that gave the cold shoulder to about half of the state.

But that’s getting ahead of things.

Publix, based in Lakeland, understandably supports Putnam. He came from nearby Bartow, and he represents much of what that corporation stands for.

Interestingly, there are some things they don’t agree on. Remember how Putnam regrettably referred to himself as a “proud NRA sellout?”

Publix has sought to distance itself from the NRA, if not Putnam, after the Tampa Bay Times initially reported the chain’s significant financial support of him.

I’m not saying that initial story wasn’t interesting.

It was good reporting and it’s helpful to know where the money comes from.

However, it won’t make me decide to shop somewhere else if I decide not to vote for Putnam. I mean, I really like Publix fried chicken.

Jack Cory: It is time to do away with the Constitutional Revision Commission

In 1968 the voters of Florida adopted a new state Constitution.

The new Constitution provided for three ways to change the document in the future — by an initiative process, by a joint resolution of the Legislature, and by revision through an appointed Constitutional Revision Commission (CRC).

At the time — no other state used a CRC to change its foundational document. That remains true today.

When the voters passed the new Constitution, it made perfect sense to have a CRC look over the Constitution after the passage of time. The primary purpose of the CRC was simply to make sure there was a way to “tweak” the new Constitution after it was in place.

It was never contemplated that the CRC would be used to fundamentally change the Constitution by adding new provisions with amendments. It was assumed such amendments would either come from the Legislature or the people — not the CRC.

In fact, the Constitution says the CRC can only revise the Constitution — it makes no reference to the CRC making wholesale amendments and adding new sections to the Constitution.

The CRC has now been convened three times — with the last CRC officially completing its work this week. They submitted their Final Report to the Secretary of State which contained eight proposed Constitutional Amendments. Most of the proposed amendments contain more than one idea or concept — the CRC called this “grouping.” In the legal arena, this is called logrolling — which is generally prohibited in the lawmaking process.

The CRC announced that logrolling was entirely permissible — basically because they said so. We heard a lot about “precedent”— but the only precedent was the process used the prior two times we convened a CRC.

If you look closer at the case law on the subject logrolling, Courts have said that it could be permissible as it relates to amendments to the Constitution proposed by the CRC because there is an opportunity for public input. Unfortunately, all of the public hearings around the state held by the CRC took place before they decided to lump proposals together. Thus, the public really had no opportunity to voice opposition to grouping vaping and offshore drilling, as an example, in the same amendment.

It was clear from the beginning that some members of the CRC believed deeply that their jobs were to protect the Constitution and only propose amendments that belonged in the Constitution. At the same time, there were other CRC members who appeared to believe they were a “Super-Legislature” and wanted to put things in the Constitution because the idea was unsuccessful in the legislative process (sometimes for many years).

What we are left with as voters are eight Constitutional Amendments proposed by the CRC which consist of ideas that either do not belong in the Constitution — or as a result of grouping do not provide the voters with a clear choice of what they are voting on. As a result — the blow back against the CRC has been almost universal. Newspaper editorial boards all over Florida are recommending that voters reject all of the CRC proposals and many are suggesting that we do away with the CRC altogether.

Many of the members of the CRC took their job very seriously and had the best of intentions. However, our Constitution, among other things, needs to provide stability for our law and system of government. The final action of the current CRC jeopardizes that stability. It is time to take back our Constitution by voting down all of the CRC proposed Constitutional amendments and taking the necessary steps to eliminate the CRC. For the sake of good government, we should limit the ability to amend the Constitution to the voters and their elected representatives.

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Jack Cory is with Public Affairs Consultants Inc. in Tallahassee. He and his wife Keyna are the human care givers to 2 Dogs Rusty and Bear. They are the foster parents for Florida Pets Alive, a No Kill Rescue, to 3 Dogs Zeke, Scarlet and Lady.

Joe Henderson: Voices of reason needed in gun debate

Dear Gun Owner.

I have a question for you.

I don’t know what kind of weapon you own, or how many. If you bought them legally and hadn’t shot anyone outside the law, your guns are your business.

But the National Rifle Association likes to say it represents all law-abiding gun owners by protecting their Second Amendment rights, so it became a bit of a deal when the NRA’s new president, Oliver North, said the organization is facing “civil terrorism” from protesters.

“They call them activists. That’s what they’re calling themselves. They’re not activists — this is civil terrorism. This is the kind of thing that’s never been seen against a civil rights organization in America,” he said in a recent interview with the Washington Times.

“You go back to the terrible days of Jim Crow and those kinds of things — even there you didn’t have this kind of thing. We didn’t have the cyberwar kind of thing that we’ve got today.”

He’s right. There wasn’t that “kind of thing.”

There were lynchings.

Just saying …

North told of blood being splashed on the home of an NRA leader in Virginia and said there have threats against others in the organization.

Fair enough. People shouldn’t do that.

But then he said, “What they did very successfully with a frontal assault, and now intimidation and harassment and lawbreaking, is they confused the American people.

“Our job is to get the straight story out about what happened there, and to make sure that kind of thing doesn’t happen again because the proper things are being done with the advocacy of the NRA.”

Let’s break that down. 

The “frontal assault” that got all this going occurred on Valentine’s Day at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School when 17 people were shot to death with an assault-style weapon.

No one is confused about that.

I’m also pretty sure there was a lot of intimidation and harassment going on there, not to mention lawbreaking. If anyone is confused about that, it seems to be the leadership of the NRA.

About that “straight story” North wants to get out?

The straight story is that 17 people died because a disturbed young man got his hands on a powerful weapon and went to the school with the sole intent of killing as many as possible.

If you are an NRA member, I assume you are appalled by that action, just like the rest of civilized society. I also think you should be deeply disturbed that a guy like Oliver North is saying these things in your name.

Yes, some people say that in a perfect world they would take your guns away. They will not succeed because the Constitution says you can own them.

Yes, former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens called for the abolishment of the Second Amendment. It won’t happen.

Some wingnuts even believe they need a personal armory to defend themselves against the tyranny of government. Those loose screws forget that the government has a large army, tanks, missiles and, if need be, nukes.

The government would probably win.

Oliver North talks about threats, but how are anti-gun protests any different from Marion Hammer hitting the “send” button on her vast email list to mobilize supporters against even the hint of gun restriction? Does that mean she is a civil terrorist?

I’ll answer: No. She is not.

Somewhere, somehow, voices of reason have to emerge in this debate.

So, the question I have for you, gun owner, is simply this: How many of you will raise your hand and become that voice?

Several Florida politicians properly ripped North because, as you might expect, the subject of guns is a little sensitive here. But this issue, and nation, needs more than politicians to be effective.

The nation needs you.

Joe Henderson: Cover your ears, the sports betting debate is about to begin

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Monday that it’s legal for Congress or individual states to allow gambling on college and pro sports if they want to.

Yikes.

It might be a good idea to cover your ears now because the noise on both sides of this issue is sure to reach brain-splitting levels. This battle for or against making this legal in Florida might be unlike anything the people of this state have ever seen, and that’s saying a lot.

But here’s a little something to consider while Floridians work this out: Sports wagering in our state will continue whether it’s legal or not.

It always has.

It always will.

Do lawmakers who stand in front of a microphone and rail about the evils of gambling really believe that puts even a BB-sized dent in the innate desire of some humans to take the Bucs and 6 ½ points against the Patriots?

And you know those office fantasy leagues? Money is changing hands, people. The next time you get stuck in an elevator with a guy who wants to tell you how his fantasy baseball team is doing, remember, he probably has a wad of cash riding on the outcome.

All those March Madness pools?

Um, in the largest percentage of them the winner gets more than bragging rights.

The amount of money already wagered on sports is staggering, and most of it is done illegally. Forbes estimated that $93 billion — with a B — was ILLEGALLY wagered on college and pro football in 2015.

Fox Business reported that nearly $5 billion — with a B — was wagered on the Super Bowl this year. Of that, an estimated 97 percent was done ILLEGALLY.

Well, it’s a new dawn, maybe.

Against that backdrop is a little thing called Amendment 3 that will in front of voters in November. It basically says that it passes, any future expansion of gambling would have to be approved by voter referendum. That almost assuredly will include sports wagering.

Here’s where the noise will be the loudest.

One side will be screaming “VOTE NO” and defeat the measure so pro-gambling interests can get busy lining up support in Tallahassee for the next Session to pass a sports-betting bill. My guess is that hotel owners will be particularly receptive to this argument.

The other side will be screaming “VOTE YES!” Betting on sports BAD. Gambling in general BAD!

If that side wins the argument, the savvy or determined sports bettor here will grumble and do what they’ve always done — call their bookie. And the state gets zero.

The expansion of casino gambling in Florida has been a contentious issue for years that the Legislature doesn’t seem to be able to solve and probably never will. For one thing, Disney’s official tsk-tsk on the expansion of casinos has carried considerable sway.

This seems different though.

This isn’t about building more casinos, at least not yet. This is something the state could strictly control at what likely would be a considerable profit.

A lot of current wagering is done online at offshore sites. The state could put those cats out of business in a hurry and reap a considerable profit while doing so.

Pro sports leagues have been preparing for this day for a long time. While the official stance remains that they’re not big fans of wagering on their games, they know what a financial bonanza this could be.

It’s not just owners, either. Unions in the four major sports already are clamoring already for players to get their share of the money.

A statement from the National Football League summed it up nicely:

“We intend to call on Congress again, this time to enact a core regulatory framework for legalized sports betting. We also will work closely with our clubs to ensure that any state efforts that move forward in the meantime protect our fans and the integrity of our game.”

Translation: We don’t really like this idea, but if it’s happening then we’re damn sure going to get our cut.

That’s one of only two sure things in all of this.

The other is that no matter what happens, sports wagering will continue in Florida.

You can bet on it.

Ken Hagan: Selfless act by teen to help save lives

As a county commissioner, I’m fortunate to see the great work local residents are doing each and every day to improve outcomes for our community.

But when one of our local youths selflessly takes action to help save lives, it’s something truly to be recognized and commended.

Recently, Katherine Newcomb, a senior at Riverview High School, was honored by the Tampa Bay Lightning as its 31st Lightning Community Hero for her extensive community service and commitment to the Brandon Sports and Aquatic Center’s (BSAC) Learn-to-Swim Program. As part of her recognition, Katherine received a $50,000 donation from the Lightning Foundation and the Lightning Community Heroes program.

In-between working toward her goal to attend Florida State University to double major in business management and political science and donating more than 200 hours of her time to community service, she’s also changing — and helping to save — lives. Instead of using the donated dollars tied to her Community Hero recognition for something else entirely, Katherine selflessly donated half of the funds to BSAC and earmarked the other half for a scholarship for her own education.

At that age, I don’t know if I would have had the forethought to drive social change, but Katherine’s not just any high school student. She has seen firsthand the important work BSAC is doing to prevent youth drowning and these dollars will ensure the organization is able to further implement its Learn-to-Swim initiative to address and combat the issue of drowning on a local scale by teaching at-risk and disadvantaged youth how to swim.

The Tampa Bay Lightning honors Katherine Newcomb as the 31st Lightning Community Hero. (Image via NHL.com)

Participating children in the program come by way of local Boys and Girls Clubs. To date, the program is well on its way to meeting its goal of providing more than 400 free swim lessons to children ages three to 13 and equipping them with basic water safety skills. BSAC is also expected to surpass its group lesson goal of 1,525, ensuring that even more individuals in Hillsborough County understand water safety procedures to prevent youth drowning.

Katherine should serve as an inspiration for not only teens, but adults, alike, looking to give back and make a difference. No matter the cause, we all have a role to play when it comes to protecting our vulnerable populations. Kudos to Katherine for leading by example as she helps to save young lives and in turn, makes our community a better place.

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Hillsborough Commissioner Ken Hagan is an advocate for youth drowning prevention in the county and Florida. He established a countywide swimmer safety pilot program to bring awareness to youth drowning and was recently honored with the dedication of Brandon Sports and Aquatic Center’s ‘Ken Hagan Learn-to-Swim’ Community Pool for his efforts. He was first elected as a County Commissioner in 2002 and re-elected subsequently.

Joe Henderson: Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn gives Tallahassee an earful

Whoever succeeds Bob Buckhorn next year as Tampa’s mayor will have a tough time matching his ability to deliver a speech.

His pace and timing are excellent, his voice rising and rising when he wants to engage the listener fully and hammer home a point.

Then again, Buckhorn’s message Friday in his “State of the City” address would have come through loud and clear even if Tom Fumbletongue had been speaking.

Buckhorn went beyond the usual cheerleading and optimism that has characterized most of his speeches. He blasted — and I mean BLASTED — the Republican-led Legislature for passing laws that have hamstrung the ability of big-city mayor, most of whom are Democrats, to raise money and provide services for a rapidly growing population.

Buckhorn called it “an outright attack on local governments by leadership in the Florida Legislature.”

He was just getting started.

“I’ve been around city government for 30 years, and I’ve never seen such a blatant attack to undermine local government and to strip away the powers of self-governance. It’s wrong, and it needs to stop. It’s not all of them, but it’s a lot of the leadership. And you can vote against those who vote against you.

“During campaign season they run around talking about their conservative principles, how less government is better, how smaller government is more efficient, how government closest to the people is the best government. Well, guess who the hell that is? That’s us, that’s us,” he thundered.

His voice kept rising, reaching a crescendo when he said, “ … or, God forbid, (when) we want to pass common-sense gun legislation, they say, ‘Oh no! We know better! We know what’s good for you! We’re going to decide for you.’ Tallahassee knows better? Are you kidding me? Not now, not ever. Let us do our jobs.”

He wasn’t finished.

“This is the same Legislature that pays a lot of attention to the NRA and very little attention to the PTAs.”

That sounded an awful lot like a campaign speech and not so much about the state of the city.

Maybe it was.

While Buckhorn decided against running for governor, he hasn’t ruled out taking the No. 2 spot on a Democratic ticket if he is asked. That idea has been floated.

I talked to him about that recently. The most telling thing Buckhorn said was that he would only agree to seek the lieutenant governor’s job if he felt he had a chance to really contribute to policy.

I’ve known him a long time. He doesn’t have the kind of personality that would handle four years of ribbon-cuttings and Kiwanis Club speeches.

In two terms as mayor, he was often on the business end of edicts from Tallahassee on issues that included attempts at gun control, so-called sanctuary cities, limits on the ability of cities to raise taxes, and even an attempt in the last Session for the state to pre-empt all local tree-trimming laws.

As a No. 2, Buckhorn might flourish as an enforcer and be the advocate for local cities that mayors across the state say is needed.

Would he do that?

My guess is he would, if the right person asked, said the right things, and then let Buckhorn be Buckhorn.

If that happens, one thing is certain. Tallahassee would get an earful.

Again.

Blake Dowling: All apologies

Last night, I was watching a Celtics game. Late in the half, during a timeout, there were back-to-back commercials — each a message of apology.

Wells Fargo was very sorry they created millions of fake accounts to cook the books; Facebook is very sorry about, I guess, lots of things.

Wells Fargo’s message was pretty clear, but the FB ad was a bit like a hurricane of messaging.

Bottom line, apologies are everywhere these days.

Or, maybe, are we a nation of apologists? Perhaps we have always been.

Are these nationwide campaigns helpful? Are they even necessary?

While Zuck was testifying to Congress and scandal after scandal was unfolding for his firm, meanwhile the company’s financials were skyrocketing, in fact, their first-quarter earnings for 2018 were up 60 percent over the same time last year.

All situations are unique, and maybe FB is bullet resistant (not bulletproof, mind you. No one is.) Its offering has integrated itself into the fabric of our personal and professional lives, and it is an extremely “sticky” company/offering to simply toss out the window.

Most of us are in professions where apologies are required and necessary. Think about KFC this year. They ran out of chicken. Ummm. Oops to the guy ordering the chicken.

You had ONE job, Daryl. 😊

How did they respond? With a pretty cheeky PR campaign.

How about politics? Apologies are welcome (it would seem) but a “there’s the door” approach appears to be the common end game. Plus, in situations last year involving state Sens. Jeff Clemens and Jack Latvala, we are not talking about creating fake bank accounts (or running out of chicken).

In these cases, more serious issues are at play. In the political world, once trust is broken and alleged bad behavior is exposed, it is much harder to get it back.

City of Tallahassee mayor? Apology.

More apologies in our state.

Joy Reid calls Charlie Crist “Miss Charlie.” Classy. Another apology.

Why are people apologizing so much these days? Doesn’t it seem as if apologies are rampant — money, data, sex (and chicken)?

Perhaps, the world of social media and our press focuses so much on those doing wrong and the apologies that come after.

Just a crazy thought: Maybe we should focus more on those business leaders and companies that are not apologizing for anything?

For example, Gov. Rick Scott’s leadership during recent hurricanes. No apology required. Thank you, sir.

Another is Sens. Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio, who are fighting the good fight for the people of Puerto Rico. Great job, guys, as 10 percent of this U.S. territory is still without power.

So, if my thoughts in this column have offended you in any way, email me at the address below. Perhaps I will send an apology. (HA!)

As my friend Brad Swanson likes to say, if you aren’t taking any flak, you aren’t on target.

Have a great weekend.

___

Blake Dowling is CEO of Aegis Business Technologies. He enjoys sports, IPA’s and can be reached at dowlingb@aegisbiztech.com.

Joe Henderson: We haven’t seen the last of Richard Corcoran

While it unquestionably is the right time for Richard Corcoran to go home to Land O’Lakes, as he promised to do if he didn’t run for Governor, that doesn’t mean he will stay there.

At age 53, Corcoran has a lot of hop left on his political fastball. I would be stunned if we don’t see him in a significant role if Adam Putnam is elected Governor this fall.

It became clear in recent weeks that a Corcoran candidacy was attracting stifled yawns from the electorate. I’ll give him credit for seeing the landscape as it really was and not pushing a losing hand. Aligning with Putnam was the smart play for him, and we’ll see how that unfolds.

I’m not saying there was a quid-pro-quo between Putnam and Corcoran that led to the outgoing Florida House Speaker’s exit Wednesday from a race he never officially entered. But his rapid endorsement of Putnam means we shouldn’t be surprised if Corcoran shows up somewhere in a Putnam administration.

For instance, would anyone be shocked if he took a prominent role in education leadership? Those aren’t elected positions, and Corcoran is passionate about changing the way Florida’s children receive their education.

He is a lawyer, so he can go back to that full-time if he chooses. He is a family man with growing children, so staying closer to home would have appeal. His political expertise would be in demand if he wants to do some consulting.

Obviously, all that is speculation until we see how the election shakes out. And while pundits are combing through the story of Corcoran’s gambit looking for deeper meaning, I doubt it will have much impact on the Republican primary or general election.

Corcoran had raised a lot of money and spent time trying to build drama for what looked like a commitment to run, but his campaign that technically wasn’t a campaign didn’t go anywhere.

It wasn’t happening.

It’s interesting how someone who spent as much time in the headlines as Corcoran couldn’t penetrate the public consciousness. His name recognition, for good or not, should have been considerable.

Political writers penned a lot of stories about Corcoran, and the impact of his two years as Speaker was considerable.

Florida’s public-school leaders basically spit on the ground when his name is mentioned.

He was an unapologetic antagonist to the education status quo, and that meant shepherding through laws that benefitted charter schools and forced cash-strapped public schools to look for pennies in the seat cushions.

For all that impact, though, his name didn’t connect with a big majority of Florida voters.

Even after his ill-considered attempt to terrify citizens with that horrible commercial about undocumented immigrants and murder, his name still didn’t register on the radar of everyday Floridians.

So, even though he is in Putnam’s corner, it’s likely nothing that will tilt the election.

Corcoran would have been the X-factor in the Republican primary, which now is a two-man scrum between Putnam and Fox News darling Ron DeSantis.

But even though he won’t be on the ballot this time or maybe ever again, we haven’t seen the last of Corcoran.

It’s up to the individual to decide if that’s good news or ill.

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