Monday, November 27, 2006

Message to FL Republicans: Start acting like winners!

Florida Republicans seem to be confused. Not long after I praised Speaker Rubio for his "100 Ideas" approach to the coming Legislative session, Republicans are sounding like a defeated lot.

Sarasota Herald-Tribune
"The inability of our political process to confront and solve the issue of our days is an emerging crisis," said House Speaker Marco Rubio, R-West Miami, "a crisis that leaves us on the brink of a tragic and dubious distinction -- the first generation of Americans who may not leave for their children a life better than their own."

"Floridians are tired of partisanship and political infighting," said Senate President Ken Pruitt, R-Port St. Lucie. "We must pull together or we will certainly fall apart."

"Let's face it, Jeb had a fairly dictatorial approach. It was his way or no way," said King, whom Bush endorsed over an anti-abortion candidate in a GOP primary this year. King said the resulting battles left lawmakers looking "more like spoiled, petulant children than we do statesmen."

"We need to emphasize that part of our history which has been about problem-solving and get away from that part of our history that has been about division and rhetoric," said Rep. Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton.
While Congressional Republicans took a beating at the polls earlier this month, the state party lost only seven seats in the State House. They still hold 79-41 advantage. While they did lose one cabinet seat, Republicans still hold all of the others. Charlie Crist won the governor's race by a comfortable margin. All this in a year that the trend in rest of the country was almost completely in favor of Democrats.

Most alarming about this defeatist attitude among State Republicans is the belief that they have to scramble to the middle, abandoning the conservative ground on which most of them have stood since taking complete control of the state in 1996.
Sarasota Herald-Tribune
"That's the major thing I think Republicans are looking at," King said. "If we turn ourselves down a notch or two, we can take full command of the middle, and when you do that, there's no place for the Democrats to go."
Republicans, led by Jeb Bush for the past 8 years, have been able to accomplish much during their time in power. Public schools are now being held accountable for the work they are doing. The Florida economy is among the strongest nationwide. Overall, the past 8 years have been enormously productive.

This does not mean that there's not still work to do. Education reform needs to continue, with tinkering to the FCAT, improving teacher compensation, and expanded choice topping the list. Property taxes and insurance need to be addressed and fixed right away. But none of these things will be properly handled if Republicans are more concerned with looking and acting like Democrats.

Congressional Republicans put themselves in the position their in, not because they moved further to the right, but by moving away from their conservative roots. Florida Republicans should learn from these mistakes, rather than repeating them here in Florida.

Hopefully Speaker Rubio will follow through with the "100 Ideas" initiative that he has begun. The people of Florida have elected conservatives overwhelmingly for the last 12 years. They deserve conservative leadership.

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