Many of Hillsborough's candidates lack credible education credentials

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Hillsborough lawyer and one-time legislative candidate Paul Phillips took a closer look at the education credentials of Tampa Bay’s legislative candidates.  Needless to say, Phillips didn’t find much to write home about:

Thank you St. Petersburg Times for providing the “Know Your Candidates” supplement today. As always, the information contained in these mini-biographies was a helpful guide for the twenty to thirty percent of us registered voters who actually vote in primaries. Of particular interest, especially on the heels of my party’s frantic push to enact Senate Bill 6, was the Education component of each candidate’s biography.

I must admit, having heard so many of these individuals pontificate their beliefs on the importance of an education, my expectations for their personal academic accomplishments was high. Perhaps too high it may seem.

Sure, I understand that only 27 percent of the United States population has a college degree and a mere 9.4 percent possesses a graduate degree; and, I also understand that experience has its merits. I also believe however, that electing uneducated leaders to make laws regarding education probably sends the wrong message to our children and yields the wrong results for them as well.

So the standouts on this year’s uneducated Republican candidate list are:

Ramon “Trey” Stroud, who says he will graduate from HCC with an associate’s degree this fall – – the kind of statement you expect to hear from your directionless 25-year-old nephew, but not from 48-year-old a State House hopeful.

Brian Blair, who uses the word “attended,” which we all know is a synonym for “flunked out.”

Jim Norman. The paper states University of North Florida, but we all know the truth about that one Jim. Norman’s use of the famous phrase “studied … at” on his website tells the true story. Hey, I once read a book on the lawn at Oxford University. Perhaps I can say I studied Chaucer at Oxford. Too bad Jim didn’t learn enough accounting to properly account for his assets.

Josh Burgin has “Some Russian Language Study at the University of South Florida.”  Of course, having more jobs in his 34 years than there are classes in an undergraduate program, does help the experience argument. Right?

Special Alumni Shout Out goes to Rachel Burgin, who made it off the list by completing her Bachelor’s Degree in Biblical Studies from the Moody’s Bible Institute. Although I have to say it is hard to understand how that degree prepares you for accomplishing your stated goals of taking on foreclosure and job creation- – unless you intend to stone those behind on their mortgage payments and employ on-line course-taking homeschoolers to do the stoning.

Honorable Mention goes to April Griffin, 41, and Terry Kemple, 63, both of whom had that stones to run for and education oriented position, the Hillsborough School Board, without even having a college degree. That’s some leadership!

Finally, my heartfelt respect and congratulations goes out to the candidates in State House Districts 57 and 67, all of whom have impressive educational credentials.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including,,, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.