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    Monday, August 23, 2010

    My Message to the Tallahassee Tea Party

    Tonight I sent out a pre-primary vote message to the 919 members of the Tallahassee Tea Party Facebook group. Here's the text of that message.

    Tallahassee Tea Party,

    Tomorrow may be a historic day in Florida, and particularly in Tallahassee. There are many big primary races on both the Republican and Democrat tickets. There are also many non-partisan local races that will be DECIDED tomorrow - by this time tomorrow night we may know who our next Mayor, City and County Commissioners, and School Board members will be.

    While many statewide races are simply primaries tomorrow, the local races will mostly be OVER tomorrow. So, if you haven't yet voted via early voting or absentee ballot, you must vote tomorrow at your local precinct.

    Many people have asked me "Who is the tea party endorsing?" This question has been posed in races for Governor, US Senate, state representatives, mayors, etc. My answer has always been: "The tea party should not endorse candidates." This movement is BIGGER than that. It's the same reason the tea party movement should not be its own political party - why would we want to confine a movement to a party? The Goldwater Conservatives of the 1960s voted for a candidate, but they took over a party. They were bigger than one man. We must seek to be bigger than the candidates and parties that are offered to us and hold them accountable on a case by case basis.

    Tomorrow, and in November, I believe the tea party movement will demonstrate its impact - and no single person or cluster of a few leaders at the head of a party (whether it be the GOP, the Dems or a local or statewide or national tea party coalition) should decide for individuals who they should support.

    The entire point of the tea party movement is that we, as individuals, have taken it upon ourselves to be more be more ENGAGED...and to make our voices HEARD.

    I have been so encouraged by many of you who first become more ACTIVE during the first round of tea parties in early 2009. In the past year and a half, you have also been more ENGAGED - at rallies, on the phone calling your representatives, and more recently out working for individual candidates that YOU personally believe in. We can't all agree on every candidate or race. There are many fine people running (and quite a number of not so fine running as well). But the pure fact that we are part of a movement that shares the founding principles of individual liberty and limited government and the ideas of personal responsibility, is a testament to how powerful this tea party movement has become.

    So, thank you, thank you, thank you. Keep up the fight. I believe tomorrow is going to be a HUGE day in Tallahassee. And I think from tomorrow through November we will have plenty of good candidates to get behind as we seek to send Tallahassee and Washington a message...that we the people are more ACTIVE than ever, more ENGAGED on the issues, and that we will in fact be HEARD.

    GO VOTE!

    Sunday, August 01, 2010

    Florida's Beaches are Still Perfect

    Last weekend, I spent a day at one of my favorite Florida getaways - St. George Island, which is situated on the Gulf of Mexico, just 90 minutes from the state capital of Tallahassee. SGI, as it’s known, always has a very secluded feel to it. It’s why the area is known as Florida’s “Forgotten Coast.”

    SGI may not have quite as nice of beaches as Destin, Panama City, or Pensacola, all within a few hours to its west; it may not have the high rise condos and many hotel chains; but it is a beach as untouched as most in Florida. In fact, that’s why I like it. It is a small beach town, with only a couple of locally owned hotels (no high rises). Most of the time if you stay a night, a weekend, or a week, you do so by renting out a beach house. It’s a true island getaway.

    As my friends and I got into the water, there was no sign of oil anywhere. This is the oil-drenched Gulf of Mexico we had been hearing about? The only thing we had to fight this day was some possible rip tides, but we kept it safe, allowing ourselves to enjoy the large waves created by Tropical Depression Bonnie (which had passed through the Gulf of Mexico hundreds of miles to the south earlier that day). If we had a surfboard, this day would have been ideal - but so far that isn't a sport I've taken up yet.

    We then went and enjoyed some great music at Harry A’s, played by our friend Sam Thacker and his band. To keep things humorous, Sam kept introducing his band with a different name in between every song. “We’re Sam Thacker ... and the brown oysters,” he said one time. Next time it was “...and the dirty pelicans.” Finally, “...the dead manatees.” He meant no harm. And surely this isn’t something to joke about. But as we sat in a bar and grille that continues to serve great seafood from the Gulf of Mexico, as we sat on the beaches and refreshed ourselves in the warm Florida waters, we never saw one ounce of what the mainstream media told us about. Instead it felt like normal times on St. George Island - except for the businesses that are hurt by false, or at least over exaggerated reports.

    All I could think of is how this might be affecting the small business along Florida’s Gulf Coast. Florida boasts more than 1200 miles of coastline - and 700 miles of that includes sandy beaches. A few miles near Pensacola have been touched with tar balls, but not much else. In fact, at last check, all of these coastlines and beaches remain open for business. Florida’s Commissioner of Agriculture Charlie Bronson declared this past week that “98% of all seafood in the entire Gulf of Mexico is unaffected and safe to eat.”

    One of my favorite past times, especially during the summer, is to get out to the beach and in my opinion, Florida boasts some of the best, most diverse, and most unique beaches around. For my friends outside of Florida, I’m happy to make some recommendations: Amelia Island, Miami Beach, Fort Myers, St. George Island, Destin, and Pensacola Beach are some of my favorites. And I’ve heard so much about Siesta Key (near Sarasota) from others that it may be next on my list to check out. Either way, get to some of Florida’s beaches soon. You’ll understand why it is so many millions of people visit here - and why it is so many others choose to make this state home.