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The Keyser Soze of Florida politics

in The Bay and the 'Burg by

Even though it’s a little hypocritical of me filing election complaints against candidates for such sins of omission as failing to include the required disclaimer on their campaign material, I do so for an important reason.

I believe it’s important for candidates running for office to retain the counsel of a paid political consultant, if for no other reason than so that someone can help navigate them through the hazardous waters of campaign finance laws.  Just as a judge (unofficially) punishes defendants who fail to retain a lawyer, so I believe it necessary to whack the candidates who think they are too smart to hire a political consultant.

One of the most important reasons to hire a political consultant is just so someone is around to help the candidate dot the i’s and cross the t’s. Especially during Qualifying Week.

For the life of me, I just don’t understand why candidates mess around during Qualifying Week; why they wait until the last moment to file their candidate paperwork; why they try to pull a fast one on a political system that has already seen every trick in the book.

I tell the candidates I work with to be at the Division of Elections at 12:01 p.m. on Monday to be the first in line to officially qualify.  That way, if there are any problems — a missing signature, an unchecked box — the candidate has five days to fix the problem.

I have no sympathy for the candidates who wait until 10 minutes before Qualifying closes on Friday, only to not make it on the ballot because they don’t have the right amount for their campaign check.

Case in point, former Polk County Commissioner Neil Combee, who failed to make it on the ballot to run for the state House of Representatives because his check was one cent short of the required amount.

Or former Tampa City Councilmembers Linda Saul-Sena and John Dingfelder, who had to resign immediately because they muffed-up their resign-to-run paperwork. (In Saul-Sena’s case, she should seriously consider suing her consultant, Mitch Kates.)

For Combee, Dingfelder and Saul-Sena, whatever their future holds, they will always be remembered as the Keyser Soze of Florida politics or as Verbal Kint says about Soze, they ‘become(s) a myth, a spook story that parents tell their children at night. Don’t fill out your qualifying papers right and Keyser Soze will come to get you.’

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, 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.

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