The results of the Primary Election statewide ought to put to rest the overblown scope of the Tea Party’s political muscle, particularly in Marion County. [Disclaimer: this writer is named a Tea Party Solutions “enemy” and is proud of it.] Since 2010, this annoying meme has cast a shadow over fearful politicos and prevented wise voices from uttering sane thoughts for fear of being branded a heretic by a handful of noisy Republican extremists, latter day John Birchers, and deluded conspiracy theorists.
Even the upset of Ted Yoho over 20+ year incumbent Congressman Cliff Stearns can hardly have been attributed to Marion County’s Tea Party Solutions since Stearns had his strongest support in the district’s population centers, Marion (Yoho was a distant third in Marion behind Stearns and Olerich) and Clay counties. In this four candidate race, Yoho won by huge margins in all the other counties – most over 50%.
The report that Stearns simply sat out the campaign, barely touched his $2 million campaign war chest, and conceded the grassroots to Yoho is nothing new. It reflects the way Stearns has always run his campaigns in recent memory. His invisibility in a newly drawn district was the major factor, not the Tea Party. In fact, even with Stearns’ cavalier indifference toward this new GOP electorate, Yoho barely won. It likely helped more that Yoho has a fun and memorable name, but then how many Yoho signs did you see out there in Marion County? Me, none.
Looking at the local Tea Party Solutions ratings, a bewildering scheme of numerology that may have included an Ouija board and the I Ching, their preferred candidates didn’t exactly excel. Their complete scorecard can be downloaded by clicking here.
For School Superintendent, Jackie Porter was preferred (106%) by Tea Party Solutions with Wally Wagoner second (94%). Despite a 73% rating and having blown off the TPS interview, George Tomyn nonetheless emerged as the clear favorite in Republican voting on Tuesday.
Among County Commission candidates, GOP voters gave a narrow nod to Stan McClain (52-48%) over newcomer Jeff Gold in the District 3 race when Gold had blown off the Tea Party examination process altogether.
The Tea Party seemed to like its own leader Butch Verrando only slightly more (95%) ni the District 5 race than the relatively sane Pat Gabriel (92%) and cash magnet Earl Arnett (88%), with Arnett winning strong with 36% of the vote in a four person field with Verrando receiving the least votes. Remember, these are GOP voters, not general election voters.
In the School Board races, Tea Party folks liked Bobby D in the District 2 race far more than Carol Ely, but Ely won by a huge margin.
They weren’t thrilled by Nancy Stacy (65%) in the District 1 race, even though she is one of their own, but far more than Woody Clymer who also blew off their process and never responded. Stacy won by just 2,600 votes, attributable to absentee ballots from Hwy. 200 and South 441 retirement communities as Clymer had strong support in all of the Ocala city precincts and the north county precincts where GOP voters think. Had it been a November general election where Democrats voted in any significant numbers in Silver Springs Shores and Marion Oaks, Clymer would have won handily.
By now, you get the idea. Tea Party Solutions represents a cranky bunch of extremists who have always been on the fringe of the already arch-conservative Marion County GOP. They do not decide elections. They do not offer meaningful new ideas. They do not matter except for entertainment value.
If you get a kick out of nutty views like how the United Nations is going to take over the United States with “Agenda 21,” then Tea Party Solutions has value. No seriously, this Agenda 21 nonsense is a mainstay tenet of their political faith. Really. Stop laughing. Get off the floor!
Candidates heading into the November election need to get a grip and start acting like the leaders that our county needs. The mythic strength of the Tea Party deriving from one sadly freakish election in 2010 can now be laid to rest. Clearly, even Marion County Republican voters aren’t paying them much attention.
- HEY! Check out today’s Star Banner editorial which justly finds fault with the gutless weenies on the School Board and the spineless, two-faced cow pies at the local Chamber and Economic Development Corp. for their failure to lift a finger in support of the two school funding proposals. But Brad, how about a kudo to the YES for Marion Schools team?