I was pleased to read this column in the Lake Sentinel since it underscores the fact that our positive, populist campaign is gaining traction. While this isn’t an endorsement, it is the opinion of a reporter who found the fault line in Florida politics is in lawmakers who push ideologies rather than policies that benefit citizens. I’m proud that the positions I’ve advanced would get the people of District 12 working together to find solutions to challenges we face as fellow Floridians. [Article courtesy the OrlandoSentinel.com. Written by Lauren Ritchie.]
Lake County will have an intriguing race or two on the ballot in November.
Usually, ballots around here can be soooo boring because of the predominance of the Republican party and its ability to raise money.
Talk about clear choices.
“Extreme” right doesn’t stretch far enough to cover Baxley, a 66-year-old undertaker whose district is the northern two-thirds of Lake County, along with Sumter and parts of Marion.
After the Parkland school shooting in South Florida, Baxley fought to defeat a proposed ban on automatic and semi-automatic rifles and high-capacity magazines and won. Eveybody should be able to buy guns meant only to slaughter human beings, right?
Baxley’s irrelevant response: “We have a terrible problem with obesity, but we’re not banning forks and spoons.”
Any person with a quarter cup of sense knows that in America, people are free to make choices that are bad for them. Most residents, however, don’t want others, especially kooks with guns, deciding when they’ll die just because they’re shopping in a mall or attending a class at college.
Baxley often is at the heart of controversy. Last year after 14 people died in nursing homes when Hurricane Irma cut the power, Baxley remarked that the storm shouldn’t be blamed for all those deaths because most were very old people who would have died soon anyway, regardless of whether they had air-conditioning. Maybe Baxley should tell that to the family of Gail Nova, 71, who had a body temperature of nearly 110 degrees when she died three days after Irma knocked out electricity to the Rehabilitation Center of Hollywood Hills, where eight patients were found dead and another six died after being rescued.
Baxley gave one of those fake apologies: He said he apologizes if his remarks were off base. They were. Anyone with basic respect for the lives of others would know that.
And Baxley, who has an ancestor who fought in the Civil War, was on the losing end of an 18-1 vote to keep a statue of Confederate Gen. Edmund Kirby Smith in the National Statuary Hall in the U.S. Capitol in Washington. He didn’t care that people of color and plenty of whites, too, found it offensive. Later, he blocked a bill to erect a monument to slaves who helped build Florida, saying it was a monument to “defeat.” Um, only for white guys whose slaves were freed after the Civil War. For blacks, it was kind of a big win.
McKechnie, 56, doesn’t have the reputation for arrogance and disrespect that Baxley seems to have cultivated, but he also doesn’t have the money it takes to get a candidate’s word out. Baxley has raised just shy of $250,000 — most from every special interest known to man — and McKechnie so far has collected about $40,000, mostly in small donations.
Still, that’s enough to let voters understand McKechnie’s issues, which are traditional middle-of-the-road Democratic ones — increase jobs, look after seniors, support education, provide health care, protect the environment and tighten restrictions on gun owners.
McKechnie, a small business owner and freelance writer, is a motorcycle enthusiast and the author of the best-selling “Great American Motorcycle Tours.”
He pledged that the first bill he would introduce if elected would be one to require legislators to disclose who wrote the bills they introduce. So many are penned by private interests to benefit them rather than Floridians.
Baxley must run on his record of repeatedly filing various bills to loosen gun restrictions that are so far out of the realm of normal that even the Legislature can’t stomach them. That’s saying something. He introduced 18 bills in the most recent session, and none passed, including one that would have allowed concealed firearms in churches and one that would have required the state to divest investments in Venezuela.
This is one race worth studying what the candidates offer to make an educated choice.