By Jim Bleyer
Two Tampa legislators and Gov. Rick Scott, all with undistinguished records of public service, this week gave voters more reasons to support their opponents in 2018.
State Reps. Jackie Toledo and Shawn Harrison along with the governor cratered to the NRA lobby and would not even discuss gun control legislation in the wake of the murders of 17 schoolchildren in Parkland, Fl.
Their cowardice contrasted sharply with the mettle displayed by classmates of the victims, students from around the state, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, and furious parents who marched on the Capitol Wednesday to demand positive action from an inert, Republican-dominated state government.
Anyone who values children more than money were angry at Toledo, Harrison, and Scott who, in their own way, committed political hara-kiri this week. All are cozy with the shadowy forces promoting a gun-obsessed culture that places the lives of every Florida student in jeopardy.
Toledo and Harrison are in battleground districts and face formidable opponents in the general election: Debra Bellanti and Fentrice Driskell respectively. Tampa Bay Beat is not buying the rumor that Scott is reconsidering a run against incumbent U. S. Senator Bill Nelson. He’s a go with his only other option an appointee in the Trump administration.
Take Toledo. She refused to respond to concerned constituents who were furious about her vote not to bring gun control to the House floor for discussion. The following Facebook messaging went viral:
In an attempt to placate a boiling constituency—-aka damage control—Toledo released an innocuous statement about the timing of the floor vote. If Wednesday was not the optimum time, it never will be.
Toledo has employed dirty tactics in previous political races but nothing will save her here against a savvy, attuned knowledgeable foe like Bellanti.
Tampa Bay Beat is waiting for Toledo to talk about her five children with a faux empathy explanation. We will be pleased to discuss her “family values.”
In addition to falling in line with the NRA and voting against the bill for discussion purposes, Harrison had a particular problem of his own. His aide, Benjamin Kelly carpetbombed an email with a screenshot of two Marjory Stoneman Douglas students being interviewed on television and said the students were actors.
The blowback was enormous. Harrison suspended Kelly saying the email was sent without his knowledge and that he disagreed with it. “Suspended?” Kelly was fired but it was done by House Speaker Richard Corcoran’s office.
Asked why he hired Kelly, who had documented troubles with the Internal Revenue Service, Harrison told the media that he “believed in second chances.” This from someone who opposes a convicted felon’s right to vote.
Driskell will wax him in November.
Scott’s yellow streak runs off the charts, not meeting with student representatives and not answering questions, the latter a hallmark of his state stewardship. He has begged and gotten permission from the NRA not to address its Leadership Forum in May. He was previously listed as a speaker.
Toledo, Harrison, and Scott have blood on their hands. They won’t be able to wash it away with social media propaganda, political consultant’s dirty tricks, or declaring love for their own children. Voters have the threesome iin their crosshairs.