Well, look who’s back.
Paul Grogan, whose NPA candidacy in 2022 blocked non-Republicans from voting in the real County Commission District 2 race, is doing the same thing in 2024 for District 5.
Grogan filed his paperwork Tuesday, the day after District 3 attracted a candidate from a political party no one heard of. Essentially doing the same thing — blocking non-Republicans from voting in the real decision, which is the Republican primary.
I realize it’s Wednesday in an otherwise beautiful August week, so please forgive me for a little rant.
I don’t like this stuff and neither should you. Let’s dive in.
First off, I don’t have an issue with anyone running for office no matter what political party, if any. If you sincerely think your best chance of winning is with the Duck–Duck-Goose for Liberty Party, have at it.
Just know going in that:
So, to recap: No realistic chance to win and you block people from voting. If you truly think you can beat those odds, to go where no NPA or third party has come close before, well, have at it but don’t blame us for being cynical.
Because here’s the more likely scenario. Someone is playing King of the Hill.
A little background.
We have this conversation every two years. It’s important to understand the primary process in Florida.
If all the candidates for an office are of the same political party, everyone — Democrats, NPAs, etc. — votes in the primary and whoever wins is elected. If there are any other candidates, even NPA or obscure third parties, only Republicans vote in the primary. Meanwhile, we’re left with an “election” whose lopsided outcome is all but guaranteed.
Someone’s entire campaign is aimed to disrupt the process and disenfranchise blocs of voters. Only the most cynical of Citrus County voters would find that appealing.
Grogan’s 2022 campaign was a study of how this plays out in real life.
Other than, yes, anyone can run, the guy had no business being on the ballot. NPA, gone from home much of the year, totally out of touch with the community. Then he publicly supported one of the candidates in the Republican primary, which tainted the election even further.
The District 2 Republican primary featured two strong candidates. Diana Finegan, who won with 57% of the vote, clearly benefited from a closed primary; I’m not smart enough to say whether opening the primary to all voters would have mattered in the final tally or not.
And in the general election, no shock: Finegan with 78%. A little surprised Grogan received 22%, but losing 8-2 is losing 8-2.
You may ask: Why go through all that fuss just to close a county commission primary? Is it really that significant? Great questions!
Here’s my well-researched answer: I don’t know. Last I checked, we can’t get into the voters’ minds so I don’t know why they vote the way they do.
But I can say this: There are segments in the community who are CONVINCED it matters. The general thinking is Citrus Republicans will vote for the most conservative of the conservative candidates. With no Democrats, NPAs or third-party voters to balance that out, it’s an advantage to certain candidates within the Republican party itself.
So goes the theory. I don’t know. Maybe it works.
What I don’t like is that it manipulates the process. I’m not naive. Winning is the reason for the season, I get it. But when it’s down to the local level, and we’re trying to elect or re-elect leaders to move this county along the delicate steps forward, this stuff really fries my britches. Where is the sincerity behind such a move? What message does it send to the community?
It's frustrating because Grogan's a nice guy. He doesn't seem to mean anyone harm. But the only way an NPA is elected to the County Commission is if something horrible befalls the person who should win. All things equal, in what universe is this county choosing an NPA or third-party candidate over a Republican regardless of who it is?
At least we know the score early on. No biggie. We rise above such silliness.
OK. Mid-week rant concluded. Resume your normal programming.
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Mike Wright has written about Citrus County government and politics for 36 years.