Now that the dust is settling, it is important to study and document the loss dynamics of “Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch for Martin County Commission District 1.” In retrospect, it was a voice for the river grassroots campaign versus a sophisticated political machine. The narrow loss to 16 year incumbent Doug Smith, by only 677 votes or 2.9% makes the retrospective even more interesting!
As there is such a plethora of material, today we will research only parts #1 and #2: The Write in Candidate (WIC), and the Martin County Firefighters Union. In follow-up posts, we will breakdown the influence and monies of the political action committees and their cohorts better known as PACs.
#1 WRITE IN CANDIDATE (WIC)
One very effective way the political machine affects a race is by putting in a “write in candidate.” Because of a constitutional amendment brought forward by the voters in 1998, Florida is a “universal primary state,” meaning in a primary election that determines the General Election, voters of all parties are allowed to vote. But there is one “opinion” loophole: if a write in candidate enters the race, the race becomes closed.
Write in candidates could be real candidates who at the last minute decide to run, or they can be fake candidates who are put up by the “powers that be” to close the primary race to one party, or for the “benefit” a certain candidate.
This is what happened in the JTL District 1 race. Chase Lurgio, an 18 year old teenager at Jensen Beach High School, who is certainly a not in a position to be a county commissioner, was put up for the benefit of Mr Smith the last days of June. The race had been going on since September the year before.
Who put up this candidate and was he awarded for service? This we may never know, but as we study the players in the arena we begin to get an idea….
If you are interested, all of Chase Largo’s WIC information can be found on the Martin County Supervisor of Elections’ website; also, one can call and request his qualification papers. There is not much to learn as a write in candidate pays no fee, (“real” county commission candidates are required to pay almost 4,000$ or get 1100 petitions signed to quality); WIC do not have to fund raise, participate in forums, etc.., can be of the same party they close, (as is the case of Chase Lurgio who is a Republican himself like me and Doug Smith); they do not have to put forth a biography…nothing is really required to be a WIC, you just have to be willing to sign up.–they don’t even have to live in the county!
2016 Candidates by name: http://www.martinvotes.com/content.aspx?id=474
To repeat, the JTL Campaign, a loud independent voice for the health of the St Lucie River, a bipartisan issue with broad appeal to all parties was threatening to the political machine and to Doug Smith. So the race was closed by a WIC, disenfranchising over half the voting population of Martin County (Democrats and Independents.) Considering the will of the people 1998 constitutional amendment made Florida a universal primary state, this does not seem correct.
Numbers of Martin County Registered Voters: |Republican: 55,015 | Democrat: 27,501 | Other: 26,591 | Total: 109,107
People can change parties but this is a lot to ask, and only a very small population even figure out what is going on. Many voters are furious when they get to the polls and names they expected to vote for are not on the ballot.
Mind you, I have no problem with true write in candidates or closed primaries. However the tactics of Florida’s present system are fraudulent and encourage foul play. The only way to change this is to work against the corruption of WIC fraud and in time get the state constitution changed for either straight closed primaries or open primaries as our constitution reads now.
In conclusion, as time goes on more and more law suits have arisen regarding WIC and in fact there is a case in the Florida Supreme Court Case pending although one was just determined and the opinion on WICs was upheld. It is the people who must overturn this fraudulent part of our system.
Orlando Sentinel article on WIC: http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/politics/os-write-in-candidate-lawsuit-20160805-story.html
#2 THE MARTIN COUNTY FIREFIGHTERS UNION
Another factor affecting the JTL race was the Martin County Firefighters Union. The MC Firefighters Union has been at an impasse with the Martin County Commission for raises etc… To overcome this situation, they have regrouped and developed a ruthless union that has raised dues to back candidates that promote their interests.
It is kind of “You scratch my back, I’ll scratch your back” approach. As was quite obvious during the race, where I used my grassroots team, Doug Smith used the firefighters. They put his signs together in the union parking lot and waved signs along with their families on the side of the road in sweltering heat.
They also raised extra money with their union dues to send out a negative post card against me and later made direct phone calls to citizens in my hometown of Sewall’s Point stating untruths.
Their Political Action Committee, Citizens for Public Safety, (PAC) sent out the ad below and by clicking on the link one can see they raised over 100,000 dollars in their PAC to run negative ads against candidates. On average it cost about 15,000$ to send out one postcard.
If you go to the link from the Florida Department of State Division of Elections and enter their PAC “Citizens for Public Safety” into COMMITTEES you will see reporting.
GO HERE TO LOOK UP MC Firefighters’ Citizens for Public Safety or any PAC: http://dos.elections.myflorida.com/campaign-finance/contributions/
The misleading ad they sent out against the JTL Campaign is below. Look closely and you will see “Paid electioneering communication paid for by Citizens for Public Safety”
As I said many times during the course of my campaign, I am forever grateful to the firefighters for saving my life when I broke my neck in 2001, but I find their campaigning for any candidate a total conflict of interest. It will be interesting to see if Mr. Smith supports their raises in the coming budget cycles. I am also surprised the “Republican” candidate would have such a close relationship with unions.
Hindsight is always 20/20. Hope you learned something today. I certainly have! See you for part 3, Stuart Chamber’s C-PAC in the coming days.