On to the Nov. 6 elections

by Joe Courter

Well the primaries are behind us now, and Florida has become much more exciting and prominent with the upset victory of Andrew Gillum for Governor, who will face off against Ron DeSantis, who tied himself closely to Trump. Gillum’s populism and positive energy will hopefully be contagious and help Democrats all down the ballot. And we really need it

This election will set the tone for what needs to be a big swing in 2020, the decade year when the power and responsibility for re-drawing districts happens in each state. The Republicans were very strategic in 2010, and it is their gerrymandering then that our blue wave is up against. They were very aware that when the President is not up for election, many people think voting is less important and stay home. This ripples down the system, leaving governors and congressional seats vulnerable to a coordinated campaign. The Republicans, and more importantly their strategists such as the Koch Brothers, used huge money and ideological opposition to Obama to win state after state, and thus win that power to redraw districts. With demographic analysis they, in effect, chose the voters their office holders will face. Some of the more blatant examples of this practice have been overturned in the courts, but it is still with us. Florida is a great example: in 2016 it went for Clinton narrowly, but the legislature stayed solidly Republican. Now, with Gillum at the top of the State ticket, maybe we can start to undo the damage, and locally knock out Perry and Clements.   

This election of 2018 is the lead in to that important census year election of 2020, when the power to redraw districts is given.  But while the Republican had their well-funded organizational talents and reactionary ideological certitude fully in gear in 2009 and 2010, here in 2018 the Democratic side is hampered by their usual internal divides, a pretty well funded mainstream which is convinced it knows best, and a progressive, more populist wing that wants to be much more aggressive in going for things like increased funding for education and health care, for civil rights and science-based environmentalism, and shamefully, not so much now as in the past, taking a stand against war. It’s like something in our ideological make-up, Republicans tend to fall in line, but Democrats, being much more diverse and many feeling the stress of oppression, and the outrage of continued injustice, tend to fall into factions. Gains must be made here in 2018 to begin the big turning in 2020. The ongoing dumpster fire of the Trump administration should be a great motivator, and indeed turn out is up, and Gillum will add energy, but as the country slides more to the right in the courts and more authoritarian in its attitude from the top, we have a long way to go.

November voting will present clear choices. Between now and then, getting unregistered people registered is big. Oct. 9 will be the last day, and I expect we will see a big push here motivated by the need to elect Andrew Gillum and also defeat Rick Scott’s Senate bid. At least I sure hope so. But it is important to remember that the power of the vote mostly manifests in local races, and it is beyond frustrating when people ignore this, feeling that if the candidates at the top aren’t who they’d like they stay home. A local referendum is talked about on page one of this Iguana, to keep local control of GRU: very important, Also on the local ballot 1/2 cent for schools. And as far as looking ahead to 2020, we have a very important item on the statewide November ballot to give people with felonies a second chance  at voting in Florida, the state which has suppressed these voters more than any other state. (Vote Yes on 4)

LOCAL RESULTS: Regarding our local races, the turnout was pretty good for an off-year primary, about 28%, and while some races were clearly decided, a couple of others will go to runoff with the November balloting. Please consider multiplying the power of your vote by supporting the ground work of these candidates as they work to represent you.

State Senate District 8: Kayser Enneking ran a well-funded (and Democratic party-aided) campaign and prevailed against the grassroots campaign of Olysha Mcgruder. This race was marred by many negative mailers from an outside group which at this point is still questionable as to their monetary source and intent. They distracted from the issues, doubtless hurt McGruder, and we will report further on this issue in October. Meanwhile, onward to defeat Keith Perry.

State Representative District 21: Jason Haeseler won against Amol Jethwani and will move on to take on Chuck Clements. Clements and Perry (above) need to go, they are primary authors of the ballot item to strip GRU of local control (see pg. 1) This will be hard, but Amol’s campaign will hopefully join forces with Jason’s.

Alachua County Commission District 2: Marihelen Wheeler beat Randy Wells in a race of two really nice and very well-qualified people. She will face a very well-funded local publisher running as a No Party Affiliate (NPA). The Wells campaign has pledged to work with Wheeler.

The two Judges races on the ballot will both be decided in November as no one got over 50%.

Circuit Judge Group 8: Gloria Walker and David Robertson will face off. Covering 8 counties, Walker ran strong in Alachua County, but rural voters brought her down to 47.9%. We hope Walker can win.

County Judge Group 2 comes down to Meshon Rawls (35.5%) and Craig DeThomasis (28.6%) in November. Two other candidates split the rest of the vote. They are both really good with different backrounds and life experiences. Alachua County wins either way.

In the School Board races, District 3 will come down to a November run-off between the long-serving Gunnar Paulson (45.5%) and challenger April Tisher (31.6%). There is a real feeling of wanting change from the community which will help Tisher. This will be interesting.  In the other races Tina Certain (Dist. 1) knocked off April Griffin in a close race, and Rob Hyatt (Dist. 5) won re-election decisively over a youthful challenger Paul Wolfe.

More election coverage to come with the next Iguana in mid October. 

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