Orlando state Rep. Scott Randolph says Democrats shouldn't put Crist on 2014 ballot for Governor

09/27/11 Janelle
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State Representative Scott Randolph gave some insight into what it’s like being a Democrat in a Republican-heavy legislature. He spoke at a Tiger Bay Club of Polk County meeting in Bartow Monday. Randolph said there are some alliances across party lines, but that isn’t always enough to move plans through the legislative process.

“I basically told Dan, there’s no way I’m going to let that pass our caucus. And at the same time you have Republican David Simmons, who I get along with very well by the way, he’s now a senator. At the same time you had Senator Simmons going to his caucus and saying we don’t like that plan either and, we ended up working on a plan together that only came out of the house with two no-votes. Now unfortunately the senate took it, ripped it apart, and then adjourned and then left us with the choice of either putting nothing on the ballot or putting their worthless amendment on the ballot.”

But the competition is normal, he says. It keeps elected officials on their toes.

“You all should be much more scared if you see a Tallahassee where everyone’s patting each other on the back. I’d be much more afraid of what’s coming out of Tallahassee if suddenly everybody came out and said, ‘eh, that’s a pretty good…’ somebody’s getting rich somewhere and it ain’t going to be you, if everybody in Tallahassee’s agreeing all of a sudden with everybody, and again. It’s like when your kids come out of the room and they’re all smiling and happy and you, ‘ok, ok, what’d you do’.”

Randolph is entering his sixth legislative session, making him a veteran in the Florida House. He weighed in on taxes in front of a crowd of mostly self-proclaimed conservatives. Randolph, who all but apologized for being a Democrat, said he just wants to make sure taxes are spread out fairly.

“When you talk about taxes, the small businesses and middle class get very weary. And if you were to ask me whether they are taxed enough, I would say yes. Because we’ve seen a huge shift of the tax burden come down from the super-wealthy and large corporations down to small businesses and the middle class. When Jeb Bush was governor, when Charlie Crist was governor, they cut 14 billion dollars mostly in corporate taxes, millionaire intangibles tax, other special interest taxes. Did some of those make their way, did some of them trickle down, there’s no doubt.”

Members responded positively to his answers, even if they didn’t agree. They laughed at his jokes and applauded when he said government officials should be held 100% accountable for unethical behavior; citing the financial disclosure scandal involving Florida House President Mike Haridopolos. Retiree S.L. Frisbie said Randolph said he was impressed with the politician, even though he didn’t know much about him.

“He obviously gave us good insight and I don’t think he was terribly partisan and we did, were asked by one of the democratic committee people to get more Democrats. It happens, the ones we asked, a few of them have come, a few of them have turned us down. But I think that that person, I don’t even know who it was because Al does this, suggested that we invite Scott over to speak and he obviously speaks, represents himself very well.”

Randolph also gave his two cents on who he thinks the Democrats should pit against Governor Rick Scott in 2014. He said it isn’t Alex Sink, who narrowly lost to Scott last year, and he didn’t have much hope for former Gov. Charlie Crist either.

“I don’t think Charlie Crist should be our nominee. I think the Democrats would be embarrassing themselves if Charlie Crist was the nominee. I think it’s an embarrassment to say you’re going to pick up somebody that’s just sort of drifted along and then suddenly he decides that this election cycle instead of it…I mean think about that. You would have a man that had been on the ballot in 2006 as a republican, in 2010 as an independent and then in 2014 as a Democrat. Now I’ve seen some shifts in the political bad weather, but that’s a pretty amazing thing in an 8-year time span.”

And the state representative also said it is important for voters to focus on local politics. He said more and more state matters are being handed down to local governments and people need to stay vigilant. Jean Reed, a former Polk County Commissioner, agreed.

“It’s good and bad depending on what local officials you elect. It’s going to be more and more important for citizens to be responsible when they go to the polls knowing that local politics matters more and more. And that’s pretty much what he said, whether it’s the school board or county commission or city commission, they are making more and more heavy decisions.”

Randolph also talked about education spending cuts. He said local school districts, except Orange County where Disney reigns supreme, are the largest employers. He said the state legislature was criticized by Gov. Scott for not cutting enough and even the Republicans didn’t appreciate it.

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