Orlando Sentinel columnist Scott Maxwell’s ego is on full display in his latest column in which he argues that the defeat of one-time Speaker Designate Chris Dorworth is “Florida’s political story of the year.” See, if you buy into this false premise — Dorworth’s defeat is nowhere near the top of the list of Florida political stories — then you are reinforcing Maxwell’s high regard for himself because he fashions himself as the crusading journalist whose words were the true cause of Dorworth’s downfall.
Dorwroth’s defeat certainly was a shock to the system. But it was not, as Maxwell contends, the clear choice for political story of the year in Florida.
First of all, there was this small gathering of thousands of delegates to the Republican National Convention in Tampa. A hurricane almost forced the cancellation of the event, while Clint Eastwood wreaked his own brand of havoc more devastating to the GOP than any storm.
Fifteen thousand journalists covered the RNC. By comparison, there was just one reporter, the Orlando Sentinel‘s Jason Garcia, live-tweeting the recount of the results in State House District 29.
Mind you, the RNC is a national story which just so happened to have taken place in Florida, so an argument can be made that the GOP convention doesn’t qualify as a Florida political story. I disagree with this notion, but just for the sake of argument, take the RNC iout of consideration. That still leaves Florida’s presidential primary as a bigger story than the defeat of Chris Dorworth.
It may seem like ancient history now, but the Sunshine State played kingmaker in determining which Republican would challenge Barack Obama.
After his victory in South Carolina, Newt Gingrich was riding high and, for a moment, appeared to have a serious chance at the Republican nomination, reminds Jeff Henderson. To get his presidential bid back on track, Mitt Romney pulled out all the stops and unleashed a volley of attacks on Gingrich. Romney recovered his momentum and carried Florida while Gingrich faded. Romney’s victory in Florida was a much, much bigger story than Mike Cleland’s victory in Seminole County.
Florida did not play as pivotal a role in determining the outcome of Obama vs. Romney, but how the state conducted its elections — with accusations of voter suppression, long lines at polling locations and delayed results that made the state (again) the butt of endless jokes — was an embarrassment which, unfortunately, ranks ahead of Cleland vs. Dorworth in newsworthiness.
Out of this fiasco reemerged former Governor Charlie Crist, who has dominated news cycles with his speech to the Democratic National Convention, endorsement of President Obama, criticism of Rick Scott and switching of political parties. Google Charlie Crist and see how many entries are returned. Do the same for Mike Cleland or Chris Dorworth and then try to tell me that Dorworth’s defeat is the political story of the year.
Only in Scott Maxwell’s mind, that is the part of it not occupied by his overinflated sense of self, is Dorworth’s defeat the political story of the year in Florida.
Maxwell reminds me of the first-time fisherman who thinks the fish they’ve caught is the biggest fish ever hooked. Or the hunter who thinks he’s bagged the biggest buck. Maxwell should look beyond Orlando’s backyard, as he refers to it, and recognize that there were other, bigger stories than his Javertian pursuit of a single state legislator.