Tom Gaitens, state director for Florida FreedomWorks, said he plans to recruit primary opponents to run against Republican Sens. Jack Latvala of St. Petersburg, Jim Norman of Tampa and Thad Altman of Melbourne. — The St. Petersburg Times, May 21, 2012.
About the dumbest thing I think anyone working in Florida politics could do is to let Jack Latvala know that you are targeting him in the next election.
You’d be smarter walking up and smacking the nose of a grizzly bear, which, as it happens, Latvala, on his better days, is often compared.
The fact that this threat is coming from Jack’s right flank is what’s really interesting. Mr. Gaitens plan to recruit a candidate to run against Latvala in the 2012 Republican primary reminded me of a line from the Jack Nicholson vehicle ‘As Good As It Gets’:
“Sellcrazy someplace else, we’re allstocked up here.”
This is Tampa Bay, Mr. Gaitens, not the Panhandle. This is Clearwater and Saint Petersburg and Tampa, not Eustis, sir. We don’t serve too much tea around these parts.
That’s not to say the Tea Party isn’t active around Tampa Bay. It most certainly is. Glenn Beck, after all, worked at WFLA. There are all sorts of 9/12ers and sovereigns plying their wares in this region.
But the Tea Parties are out of their birther minds if they think they have a don’t-tread-on-me chance of denting, much less knocking off Jack Latvala — or any other moderate Republican in Tampa Bay.
This is Bill Young country.
This is where Dennis Jones has represented since 1976.
This is where, when Bill Cramer was first elected in 1954, Florida’s sent its first GOP Congressman since Reconstruction to Washington D.C.
This is where, gasp, Charlie Crist is still realtively popular.
As for the Tea Partiers who have ran for office, there have been some successes, but only if you credit the Tea Party with Rep. Larry Ahern’s win in House District 51. What’s more often the case when a Tea Partier has run is, if they haven’t embarrassed themselves (as was the case with Marg Baker’s challenge to Rep. Peter Nehr), the candidate furthest to the right loses handily to the smarter center-right candidate, as was the case with Fabian Calvo losing to Rep. Richard Corcoran.
Wanna know how we like our politics in Tampa Bay? Well, you should have been at Buddy Brew Coffee two weeks ago when Hillsborough County Commissioner was hosting former Mayor Rick Baker at his weekly coffee klatch.
There you would’ve seen two conservative Republican leaders discussing the proper of role of government, whileacknowledging that government has a positive role in modern society. Sharpe and Baker talked about mass transit and environmental regulation and taxes. Even this Independent had to admit I was entranced. Probably because neither Sharpe nor Baker mentioned Barack Obama’s birth certificate.
Just as Jack Latvala had a very successful legislative session avoiding Tea Party issues, like so-called immigration reform.
So, Tea Partiers, be careful calling out Jack Latvala or any other moderate Republican from around here. If you thought Jacksonville was rough, Tampa Bay may turn out be your Waterloo.