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Friday, Oct 24, 2014
Steve Otto Columns

Otto: House race will be politics as usual

Published:

The announcement this week that Alex Sink is running for the newly vacated congressional seat in Pinellas County is a pathetic reminder of how things don’t change. A few weeks ago, if you were an elected Democrat or Republican, you wouldn’t have been able to get a free glass of water around here. The mood around the country was to throw the rascals out or, at the very least, make sure that no one in office was re-elected.

But then, on Oct. 18, U.S. Rep. C.W. Bill Young died, leaving a seat in Pinellas County vacant for the first time in 43 years.

What an opportunity for some fresh blood, someone with a disdain for joining the congressional country club and who would be more interested in serving his or her district instead of starting a new career.

Good luck on that one.

These things don’t happen very often. Congressional seats in this country have become like legacies.

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Growing up around here it seemed to me that Sam Gibbons had always been our congressman. Kathy Castor, the current holder of the seat, was obviously graced with a familiar political name.

Gus Bilirakis holds the seat he all but inherited from his father. It matters little what he does or doesn’t do. Getting him out of office isn’t going to happen.

So it’s going to be politics as usual as the Republicans and Democrats suddenly are ready to dump millions into a battle for a seat the winning party will likely hold onto for life.

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That gets us to Alex Sink, the former Florida chief financial officer and unsuccessful candidate for governor. It is obvious she is one of those who wants to be an elected official, no matter what the office is. She already has said she will move from her beautiful home in Thonotosassa to Pinellas. Maybe she’ll get a double-wide.

She also is just as obviously a very smart person and an appealing candidate with a permanently attached impish smile who says the right things and likely would be a popular legislator.

But she is a carpetbagger no matter how much she claims to love Pinellas County. She is a too-familiar name when we really don’t need familiar names. She might even be able to win the seat if only because we are a culture that is suckered by marketing, whether it’s a lizard selling car insurance or a politician slithering through a campaign with millions in slick advertising clearing the way.

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It doesn’t seem to matter your political allegiance anymore. It doesn’t matter whether you have any standards you want to cling to. It’s money and it’s politicians who understand that once they get there then they no longer have to deal with the likes of you, because they don’t have to.

So here we are beginning the same process all over again, at the same time those good old familiar faces continue to sit around Washington pointing fingers for a few days and then flying home to say it’s not their fault.

That 13th District seat could be the beginning of a sweeping change in the way our government functions, but it isn’t going to happen, whether it’s this particular carpetbagger looking for a job or someone else with the millions it is going to take to win.

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