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To Tallahassee and Back : Presidential Politics on Display in Florida

Although the RNC is national in nature, its impact on state government is immense. The convention is the kick-off of an election season that may alter the makeup of Florida’s government for years.

This week saw the arrival, and departure, of Tropical Storm Isaac, which briefly threatened to end the Republican National Convention in Tampa. 

The RNC, one of the biggest events to happen in the Tampa Bay area in years, was not cancelled once Isaac veered towards the northwest and away from west central Florida. In fact, the quadrennial gathering of the Republican Party faithful proceeded, although the festivities were shortened slightly. In addition to writing the party’s platform, the overarching purpose of the convention is to nominate the party’s standard bearer through the remainder of the presidential election season and beyond.

Although the respective major party conventions are national in nature, their impact on state government is immense. Not only do state governmental leaders share the spotlight with national figures this week, the convention is truly the kick-off of an election season that may alter for many years to come the makeup of Florida’s government at all levels.

The coattail effect is a well known phenomenon that can sweep members of the victorious presidential party into office from Congress to the state house and even locally. The polar opposite is the dreaded anti-incumbent movement. Sometimes people are voted out of office just because they are already in office. Others don’t make it because they are implicitly affiliated with the individual at the top of the ticket who has become a poster child for what may be wrong with the respective party in power. Each election cycle is unique. World events and domestic challenges all play a part in determining who wins and who does not.

This presidential election year coincides with the first election of Florida’s newly apportioned Congressional and state legislative districts. In some districts incumbents are running against incumbents.  In others, incumbents are being challenged by newcomers. No matter the makeup of any given race, the impact will be felt far beyond this election cycle. Legislative leadership, as well as Congressional leadership, will be influenced many years into the future. The RNC is the first of two conventions that usher in an election cycle that will play a great role in guiding Florida, and the United States, for years to come.

Although most of Florida was spared the tropical devastation that threatened our state for the week leading up to the convention, it is imperative that we not forget our friends and neighbors from the Panhandle west to Texas. These people may feel the impact of Isaac in the coming days.  Please keep them in your thoughts and prayers. When a storm misses one place it must end up somewhere else. Our fellow Americans who live along the Gulf Coast may not be hosting a national convention, but nonetheless have lives and property that are just as vulnerable as ours are.

I welcome your comments and questions about the electoral process, the Florida Legislature, state government or any related matters. Please feel free to leave your questions in the comment section and I will answer them in an upcoming post. If there is a specific topic you would like me to write about please let me know as well. I look forward to responding to your comments!

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Donald Stover August 29, 2012 at 05:15 PM
The RNC is shutting out some delagates such as Maine who wants Paul. They only want Romney supporters. Its turned into elephant circus! Ex- Governor Graham has a good article in Tampa Times Tuesday. Ex-Governor Crist can't be blamed for leaving. I have been (R) for 55 years and it has changed and not for the good. Don Stover
Diane Carlstrom August 29, 2012 at 06:33 PM
The Nays were as loud as the yays and a point of order was called for. This should have resulted in a count and instead Boehner just plowed on as if nothing happened. Nice way to alienate more than a few votes.
Greg Giordano August 30, 2012 at 01:57 PM
During my 18 years in the Capitol I have worked when the GOP was first the minority and later the majority party in the legislature. The Speaker's actions you refer to are nothing more than leadership pushing forward an agenda that the majority wants. It is a reality of the political process. A reality that both parties employ. Unlike members of the legislature, which are chosen by the general electorate, delegates to the respective conventions are chosen by party leaders and the candidates themselves. It is the prerogative of these leaders to choose whom they want to represent the party and what issues they seek their support for. I have little doubt we will see similar action taking place when the DNC kicks off on September 3.
Greg Giordano August 30, 2012 at 02:12 PM
Nobody would argue that Rep. Paul earned the delegates he was awarded. He, like Sen. Santorum and others, campaigned hard and deserved the delegates that were pledged to them. That said, the other candidates chose to release their delegates to Gov. Romney in the interest of party unity. If Rep. Paul chose not to do that, that is choice is his to make. At the same time, the party as a whole has the right to employ whatever means it deems necessary to unite the party under the banner of one candidate. Although the methods may not be tasteful to the observer, they nonetheless are not unheard of. In the end Gov. Romney got his delegates, Rep. Paul made his point, and the convention was able to move on. I would suggest that if you are a lifelong Republican that you look not at how a once-every-four-year convention plays out, rather look at what the party stands for and how the people under its banner perform in office. That really should be every Republicans test of their political allegiance, not just the action that takes place under the glare of spotlights focused on Tampa for a few days this week.

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