A blog dealing with Sarasota County and the City of Sarasota.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Lies, inuendo, dirty tricks do the job for county GOP

That's not a Jono Miller blog title. [I prefer innuendo with three 'n's. ] No, that's the headline on a story on the front page of the November 12 edition of the Pelican Press. Reporter Rick Barry provides an introduction to the shameful behavior of the local Republican leadership in the most recent election. The article is backed up with an editorial with an equally damning title: LIES, SLEAZE DEMEAN SARASOTA, THE PROCESS & GOP.

Let me be clear -- I made a lot of mistakes in my first run for office. Some were mistakes in etiquette, some in strategy and tactics. I should have worked harder and earlier on increasing name recognition. I formatted my donor envelope poorly. I have trouble remembering names. I never scheduled an interview on WENG. Etcetera. On and on.

But I campaigned hard for three hundred days, gave up half a year's salary and sunk over $20,000 of my own money into the campaign because I knew it was not a position I was entitled to, but rather something I would have to work for.

And I get it that Carolyn won. I'm not contesting, challenging or otherwise protesting that reality. Within hours of her victory I posted a blog acknowledging her win, noting its historic importance, celebrating the increased diversity on the board and wishing her Godspeed. I stand by all that.

So this is not about who won, the destination. It is about the route, how we got there.

And let's be perfectly clear: I am not starting this conversation in the wake of my loss. This is not about being some sort of "sore loser". It is about being a sorely abused candidate.

My objections began two months ago on September 14th with my blog entry Fresh Lies served on a Bed of Tossed Data: The Politics of Desperation.

Then I attended the Tiger Bay luncheon on September 18th and stepped up to the microphone to ask if the leaders of both parties if they had any standards of behavior they expected of their candidates. Not so much, it turned out.

That was followed on October 4 with the blog Mason campaign: Off Track and in the Mud?

Then it was off to USF on October 8th to hear Stephen Carter speak about Civility in Politics and Society. Again I went to the microphone to as what rules of thumb should be employed in determining when appropriate negative campaigning lapses into inappropriate dirty campaigning. If I understood Dr. Carter's answer, he recommended imagining what my mother would think and considering if it served to erode the political process. I took his advice.

On October 24th I hit the keyboard again with HELP WANTED: CIVIL ELECTION ENFORCERS.

Which was followed with a supporter's letter Jono Miller Supporter Objects to Negative Ads Against Miller.

So long before the evening of November 4th, I was "on the record" speaking up publicly or writing about inappropriate campaign behavior. I did so no less than seven times before anyone knew the outcome of the election. In addition the publicly accessible blogs, I sent emails to the Civic League and some of the Republican supporters of Carolyn expressing my concerns PRIOR to the election. 

So for me this is not a week-old story but a two month-old story.


As far as I am concerned the election is settled. The behaviors of the candidate, local Republican leadership and Civic League prior to the election are not. So I'm not challenging the outcome but perhaps figuratively (and in some cases literally) what one might call the income of the election.

I appreciate the intent of Rick Barry's article. It dealt with a topic at least one writer at the Sarasota Herald Tribune was unwilling to pursue. Not really newsworthy, I guess. 

And while I think Rick's characterization of Carolyn was a little harsh (and I fear the editorial may have inappropriately resorted to journalistic paralipsis, if not proslepsis) I believe he raised several issues that must be aired and resolved. 

Our civic process here in Sarasota has sustained a grievous wound. It has been there awhile and after each election, we wrap it with a another layer of reassuringly sterile gauze while the underlying infection festers. Eventually, two or four years later, the putrescence seeps through and we add another layer, telling ourselves that this time we are on the road to recovery. But down deep we know that's not true. We need to unwrap this thing, expose it to the light of day, remove the necrosis and do what is necessary to really promote healing. If we don't we will lose the limb, if not the body politic.

The Pelican Press has taken the lead in exploring these issues. It remains to be seen if anyone else thinks this topic is worth the ink. I can assure you that there is more out there that is not merely newsworthy, but crucial to establishing both civility and a working two party system in Sarasota.

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