Then there’s this guy.
What are we to make of Paul Grogan, the no-party affiliation candidate whose existence on the November ballot blocks non-Republicans from voting in the county commission District 2 primary?
Grogan, a boat captain in the Merchant Marine who acknowledges he's out of the county for two-thirds of the year, doesn’t live in the district. He’s done no campaigning. No fundraising, other than a $25 check from Paul Reinhardt.
Of the two (legitimate) District 2 candidates, Diana Finegan would seem to fare better in a closed Republican primary than Stacey Worthington. While I didn’t make a big deal of it, Finegan saying the 2020 election was stolen from Donald Trump is a popular view among some in the party who might vote for her based on that alone. (Even though it’s, you know, total bunk.)
Preventing Democrats, third parties and other NPAs — roughly half of the registered voters — from that race certainly should help the more conservative of the two.
And with Grogan’s NPA chances all but zippo of defeating a Republican when her name is down ballot from Gov. Ron DeSantis, you can see why half the Citrus County electorate feels left out choosing our next commissioner, which is a pretty big deal.
All this seems lost on Grogan, who offered to meet with me Wednesday morning at Cattle Dog Coffee Roasters in Inverness. This wasn’t an interview so much as a get-to-know-you chat.
My opinion of NPA candidates is fairly clear. While anyone can get his name on the ballot, the fact that an NPA has never been elected to county office and the uphill climb is so steep, someone should think twice about whether that ego trip is worth the price to voters.
Grogan has all the markings of a Goocher-like candidate. He dropped out of the sky, has shown little or no initiative to campaign, openly admits he’s rarely even around here, has very little grasp of how county government works, and his depth of opinions on issues compare roughly to the average Chronicle Sound Off caller.
Plus, with the obvious political fallout of limiting the District 2 primary to only Republican voters, it isn’t a stretch to wonder just what the heck is going on here.
Grogan wouldn’t tell me how or why he got into the race. He dropped some names of politicians who suggested he run for office, but no real detail. (I talked to one of those politicians, who was as surprised as I was that Grogan mentioned her.)
I told him what I’ve heard, that it was Reinhardt who somehow talked him into this, knowing it would benefit Finegan down the line.
Reinhardt is a Republican candidate for House District 23. He’s had unsuccessful runs for other offices in the past and is no threat to incumbent Ralph Massullo, but he fancies himself as somewhat of a playmaker.
The two are acquaintances, but why Grogan (or anyone) would take political advice from Reinhardt is a mystery. At least Reinhardt is a campaign contributor; in fact, as of now, he represents 100% of Grogan’s support.
As for issues, it’s your basic surface level stuff: it takes too long to get a building permit; the county commission needs to slow down growth; commissioners should communicate with the public. Generally, what we’d expect from low-level commission candidates 20 years ago, not today when our challenges are so significant.
Since it’s all about the conversation with me, I challenged Grogan to rise above this noise and participate. The one thing his candidacy does is guarantee we’ll have a District 2 race in between the primary and election, which allows more community talk about the issues we face.
That’s assuming Grogan will actually campaign, and I’m not quite ready to take that bet.
I go back to my original question: What do we make of this Grogan candidate? The real deal or someone’s puppet?
We’ll find out soon enough.
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Mike Wright has written about Citrus County government and politics for 36 years.