An Inaugural Celebration

On Monday, President Barack Obama will be inaugurated into his second term. As one of the 29 Florida electors who cast Florida’s Electoral College votes for President Obama, I received a special invitation from the Joint Congressional Committee for the inauguration, and – along with other electors from across the country — will have a prime seat, right behind Congress.

I have this special opportunity to witness the fruits of our Democratic victory because of all the hard work of volunteers and voters in Sarasota County, in Florida and across the nation. There is still work to be done – Republicans in Congress seem dead set on holding America hostage; and in Florida, Gov. Rick Scott and his supporters continue to work against the interests of Florida’s middle class – but this weekend will be a wonderful opportunity to celebrate the inauguration of President Obama.

I’ll be sharing more from Washington, DC about all the excitement of this weekend – and then  getting back to work making Florida a better state and America a better nation.

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A Laser-Focus on Defeating Rick Scott

The Sarasota County Democratic Party exceeded every expectation in President Obama’s victory in Florida this year, and we have emerged from the 2012 election stronger and more motivated than ever. So I was thrilled to be re-elected as Chair to lead the Party forward.

Our focus for the next two years couldn’t be clearer. We intend to defeat Governor Rick Scott. He has put Florida on the wrong track, and has shown us over and over that he has the wrong priorities and is out of touch with Florida’s values.
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Can We Change the Tone in Washington?

Grace Nelson, wife of Sen. Bill Nelson, speaks in Sarasota on May 18, 2012

Sarasota recently played host to Grace Nelson, wife of U.S. Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL), for two events on May 18. Among other topics, Mrs. Nelson spoke about the current tone of politics in Washington, DC and in the 2012 campaign, sharing Senator Nelson’s concerns about the declining collegiality among his colleagues in the Senate and the overall divisiveness that marks today’s political discourse. My most recent post on Sarasota Patch looks at this divide in more depth, including a recent Washington Post article by respected Congressional scholars Thomas E. Mann and Norman J. Ornstein. Mann and Ornstein conclude that, while taking into account their academic responsibility to remain as neutral as possible when studying partisan politics, “we have no choice but to acknowledge that the core of the problem lies with the Republican Party. The GOP has become an insurgent outlier in American politics. It is ideologically extreme; scornful of compromise; unmoved by conventional understanding of facts, evidence and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition.”  Though Mann and Ornstein point to the party leadership (and Newt Gingrich in particular) as mostly culpable, they believe the real solution lies in the hands of voters. “If they can punish ideological extremism at the polls and look skeptically upon candidates who profess to reject all dialogue and bargaining with opponents, then an insurgent outlier party will have some impetus to return to the center. Otherwise, our politics will get worse before it gets better.”  What do you think? Are we stuck in a vicious cycle, or can the political climate in Washington be repaired if voters reject extremism and a refusal to compromise?