If there’s one thing about local politics that ought to be beyond debate it is that Eric Fresen (FL House District 114) is a an example of most of what is wrong with the state of the polity.
He’s in the pocket of Big Gambling, and has tirelessly worked to legalize big casinos despite the fact that other communities that have invited them in don’t get good jobs and do get much more organized and even petty crime. Even if you manage to make a destination location, the hard-core gamblers don’t as a rule leave the facility to spread their money around.
He’s basically a walking ethical swamp:
The $1,500 penalty was assessed in 2003 because Fresen did not file a financial disclosure while serving as legislative aide the year before.
Commissioners said it was “horrific” that Fresen had not paid the fine, and called the case among the worst they had ever seen. One commissioner likened the circumstances to a bank robbery.
“Can we do a public censure?” asked Commissioner Linda Robison. “I find this appalling and I think his constituents need to know he never paid a fine that was assessed.”
Experts agree that this is not an isolated issue, either.
But today the Miami Herald (truckling to the establishment since long before I moved here), endorsed every incumbent legislator. Including Fresen. Maybe because Herald ex-publisher David Lawrence, Jr. has some sort of crush on him?
And this in the year when Fresen has what may be his best challenger ever, Daisy Baez. I’ve met her and I was impressed. Unfortunately, Ross Hancock is running as an independent after dropping out of the Democratic primary when Baez demonstrated financial muscle and support. I supported Hancock when he ran against Fresen last time (and he did well because a lot of folks really hate Fresen) but this is just splitting the vote.
Vote Baez if you live in the 114th District.
This really one isn’t about party (I don’t think Baez is a liberal, she’s ex-military and a corporate executive) — it’s about basic ethics and decency.
I would have lost in the Dem primary. The state party excels in winning those. You could say it’s their core competency – winning Dem v. Dem primaries in Dem districts. They don’t so well against Republicans in the few contestable districts or races. (Think Alex Sink. They may have a winner with Crist, but that is atypical in so many ways.) But no Dem wins Fresen’s district in a midterm. Even Obama never topped 50% in HD114. And Daisy (or me) is no Obama — even more so in an off year.
It’s a blessing for me because in a three-way I only have to earn 34%, with no runoff. I go in with more than 30,000 people who voted for me in the past two years, and I think more anti-Fresen Republicans will vote for an independent than for a Dem. Don’t underestimate me again. I am your philosophical ally in this race. And I don’t see the vote splitting along the same fractures that you do.
What this analysis misses is candidate quality. Alex Sink, like her husband before her, had no charisma. She was a bad candidate. The Dem’s problem has been nominating a string of bad candidates, often driven by fear of what would happen upstate, or just by the Buggins Turn principle.
But Baez is a good candidate: Veteran, corporate executive, new face, has ties to donors, middle of the road, and very charming. Not like Alex Sink at all.
While I’d certainly be happy to see you rather than Fresen – we agree on a lot of issues – I can’t help but notice your vote totals in the Coral Gables Comission election, which don’t bode well.
Those commission results were awful. I think the voters were right to favor candidates who were more connected with the city’s immediate issues. I had gotten into that race as an extension of my state campaign, with too much emphasis on regional issues like climate and economic sustainability, and I wasn’t up to speed on Gables politics.