Alex Sink still undecided about second bid for Governor
The big question on the minds of Suncoast Tiger Bay Club members was, âWill Alex Sink run for Governor again?ââ And Thursday, Sinkâs answer at the St. Petersburg Yacht Club was the same as it has been for months: never say never. Sink said right now sheâs focused on making a difference in Florida as a private citizen.
Former Democratic gubernatorial candidate Alex Sink told attendees of the packed Tiger Bay meeting that she doesnât care that sheâs not the Governor because she can make a difference from outside Tallahassee.
âI want to build a legacy at the Florida Next Foundation. We do not have a policy foundation in this state that is ideologically moderate to progressive and we need that. We need that alternative voice to â when the Governor says âwell, the Reason Foundation thinks fast trains are a bad ideaâ â that we could have stood up and said âoh no, youâre not right, let us show you the research that says we have tremendous economic impact from high speed railâ.â
But she is so used people questioning her intentions for a second bid against Rick Scott, she asked â and answered â the question before anyone else could. Her reluctance to commit to a simple yes or a no leaves room for speculation. Karen Coale, vice president of the St. Petersburg area League of Women Voters, believed Sinkâs claims that sheâs focusing on her non-partisan think tank.
âWell, from what I heard today I came to the conclusion, sheâs not going to run this year, but sheâs not going to say never again.â
St. Petersburg city council member Wengay Newton disagrees.
âI think the work sheâs doing with the organization is more to stay relevant and stay connected. I mean, she is abreast of all the recent issues that are happening throughout this state and thatâs not by accident.â
One thing is certain. Sink is throwing herself into influencing political policy. Right now, one of her main focuses with the six-month-old Florida Next Foundation is on education.
âWe have to start, really, with four-year-olds because the research says that if we provide quality pre-K experience for the four-year-olds so that they truly are ready to read by the third grade, weâll have a lot fewer problems after that.â
She said she was appalled when she heard the news that Republican state Senator JD Alexander was pushing for a cut to more than half of USF Tampaâs budget. But what bothered her more was that $400 million was being cut across all of Floridaâs public universities. Sink thinks lawmakers can do better to both keep and attract what she calls the best and brightest.
âWe want to bring the best thinking from around the world and around the country and begin to do some programming with thought leaders in this state and begin to put more pressure and have more influence over how these dollars are spent.â
And when it was her turn to ask a question, former Suncoast Tiger Bay Club president, Beverly Mitlin, brought up what she called a gross attack on womenâs health.
âItâs been all over the country; every GOP legislator, and mostly men. What stupidity. They have wives, they have mothers, they have sisters, they have daughters. How stupid could you be? Theyâre stupid.â
Sinkâs response was almost as colorful.
âAnd they want to be in the bedroom and in my doctorâs office with me? No. You know what? The American people are not buying this and particularly women. The gender gap is way up high. I heard 14 points. Women are not going to forget whatâs been going on in the Republican presidential primary. For those of you who are Republicans in the room, you better get your party straight because itâs not right for America, itâs not right for people and itâs not what we need to be focused on right now.â
Another member, political blogger Peter Schorsch, asked her about the recent shooting of Trayvon Martin in Sanford. In that case, the shooter claimed he shot in self defense, which is disputed. Sink took a somber moment before getting a little angry and then said as a mother, her heart bleeds for his family.
âIf this had been a black man with a gun shooting a young 17-year-old white boy, there would be now doubt that the shooter would be in jail today and would be charged with a crime. So, you wouldnât be getting some made up statement from the press shop of the Governor.â
Sink highlighted some other topics her foundation is working on. She called Florida, âFILOâ in the recession â or, first in, last out. She explained, thatâs because the state relies heavily on its tourism industry that has taken a hit by a nationwide economic slump. She said Florida Next is concentrating on finding ways to break that cycle.
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