At the risk of alienating the few people who still like me, there’s something I must blurt out:
I know, I KNOW the whole world is Republican now and it’s not wise, on a website supported by advertising sponsors, to start a Friday with that little nugget.
It’s just that I spoke Wednesday night to the Citrus County Democratic Executive Committee, and I’m feeling all Democratically, or something like that.
Now, before we go any further, here’s what we’re NOT going to do: We’re not going to turn this into a Democrat vs. Republican thing. That isn't at all where I’m going with this. Remember, it’s Friday. We’re happy on Friday.
But Just Wright Citrus is about transparency as we head into the meat of the election season. Considering my political party registration is public record and there is, as of this moment, not a single Democrat on a local partisan ballot, I’m safe sharing that info. I’ve mentioned it before here and there.
A Republican friend asked me Thursday why I’m a Democrat. It’s really about family tradition more than anything. My parents were Democrats. My dad worked for General Motors and was a union man.
Even as a teenager, I recall my mom yelling at the TV during the Watergate hearings. This was before Fox News, so yelling at the TV was not as common.
Since 18, I’ve never missed an election and saw no reason to switch to Republican or anything else. (That said, it’s happened twice. I registered as a Republican to vote in two primaries that were closed to non-Republicans because an NPA candidate was on the November ballot. Literally the day after the primary, I switched back.)
Even though I’m spending an entire blog on this subject, it’s been known for years throughout both parties in Citrus County that I’m a Democrat. It’s been a particularly fun subject with my Republican friends of which, thankfully, I have many.
Some have playfully tried to coax me to their side, as we would say. When I switched parties to vote in the primary, Susan Gill joked, “You know, you don’t have to switch back right away.”
Good natured ribbing aside, it’s obviously a source of pride for the Democrats to try and get someone on the ballot and in office. Their last two county commission candidates — Tim Langer in 2016 and Wendy Williams in 2018 — did not fare well on Election Day and both blamed their losses on the inability to elect a Democrat in Citrus County.
Whether that was the reason each lost is debatable; however, all but only the Don Quixote of Democrats would concede that ship has sailed on the local level, at least for the foreseeable future.
Doesn’t mean Democrats wait on the sidelines for an opening. If anything, Democrats should be encouraging our elected officials because I’m telling ya, it’s rough out there for the commissioners.
The other night I challenged these Democrats, leaders in our community, to step up for the Republicans who are trying their best to figure all this out. Maybe I’m a dummy, but shouldn’t community come before partisanship?
I’ve known some of these people, or known of them, for quite a while. Citrus Democratic State Committeeman Joe Adams and Committeewoman Susan Reeder, Citrus Republican Party Chairman Mike Moberley and State Committeewoman Avis Craig — I just rattled off names of four people, at the top of their respective political parties, who are deeply invested in this community and constantly at work to improve it.
Can you imagine if we put these four, and others from the two parties who seek to raise up Citrus County, together in the same room and brainstorm some of this county’s biggest challenges? We won’t see hours of political bickering. We will see some of our best minds having dialogue, something their counterparts higher up the food chain seem not to grasp.
It’s all about the conversation. We drop our shields, look each other in the eye and say, “Let’s figure this out.”
I’m a proud Democrat who won’t shy from my political tradition simply because it’s not popular at the moment.
I’m likewise proud to live in a county run by Republicans whose hearts are in the right place.
Have an awesome Citrus County Friday, friends.
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Mike Wright has written about Citrus County government and politics for 36 years.