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Wednesday, Nov 26, 2014
Columnists

Jackson: A ticket so tough, not even Sir Paul can crash

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This is for everyone who thinks this spring’s toughest ticket along the Interstate 4 corridor is for Paul McCartney’s one-night stand at Orlando’s Amway Center May 18. Wrong.

Tickets for the kickoff of Sir Paul’s U.S. tour merely are steep. But they’re available to anyone willing to risk the surviving equity in their house, or sell off some priceless family heirloom.

So, there’s expensive. And then there’s impossible, and "impossible" describes the VIP reception for U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio ahead of the Pasco Republican Party’s Reagan Day Dinner at Spartan Manor April 30. All 100 tickets (give or take a rounding error), all at $250 a pop, were gone by Monday afternoon.

“We can’t take anymore,” says Bill Bunting, the Pasco GOP State Committeeman. “It’s as simple as that. People keep calling. They say, ‘Bill, you know me.’ I say, ‘Yeah, I do, but I can’t help you.’”

The dinner, Pasco Republicans’ chief annual fundraising event, has been all the buzz since Rubio committed last month to delivering the keynote speech. Or, as Bunting puts it, “We are rockin’.” Small wonder the rush to secure a moment and a photograph with the high-profile senator and presumed presidential candidate.

“We got one group, a party of 10, that could only get four (VIP) tickets,” Bunting reports. “They say they’re going to match coins to see who gets in. I’ve never seen anything like it.”

Pasco’s traditional springtime municipal elections, such as those held Tuesday, test my long-held conviction about elections in general. That is, given the choice between tiny turnouts of deeply knowledgeable voters or universal participation that includes voters who might as well be flipping coins, give me the small-but-clued-up cohort anytime.

Still, it’s difficult not to despair about cities when, on any given second Tuesday in April, the number of responsible adults who exercise their franchise usually is lower than the turnout for voting on senior class president at the nearby high school.

I mean, so you get elected to one of five council seats with 55 percent of a 14 percent turnout. That means you’ve won the support of about eight of every 100 voters in your town. So they were eight super high-information constituents. So what? Anybody who sees a mandate under those circumstances risks arrest for illegal possession of controlled substances.

Which is why we are slightly encouraged about whatever fairly bold initiatives the reconstituted boards in Zephyrhills, St. Leo and New Port Richey may pursue. Each town reported far heavier than normal absentee balloting, followed by uncommonly busy Election Day participation.

Now we can return to our usual worry about whether voters truly understood what they were doing.

Speaking of voting, Daily Kos numbers-crunchers are out with the lefty website’s analysis of the presidential vote in all 435 of the nation’s congressional districts. The results provide ammunition for Florida Republicans who see an advantage to divvying up the state’s Electoral College vote based on district outcomes. (Not that the Legislature, especially with Wesley Chapel’s Will Weatherford, who deplores Electoral College meddling, as Speaker, will consider such a bill.)

Seventeen districts tipped to GOP nominee Mitt Romney, President Barack Obama winning 10. As winner of the overall majority in Florida, Obama would have claimed the state’s other two electoral votes, reflecting its seats in the U.S. Senate, giving him a total of 12 Florida votes instead of his winner-take-all haul of 29.

The breakdown reflects, most of all, the GOP-majority Legislature’s exquisite shaping of districts despite the dictates of the Fair Districts constitutional amendments. With only two exceptions, Romney and Obama prevailed in tandem with House candidates from their respective parties. As for the outliers, Romney carried Jupiter-based Democrat Patrick Murphy’s district, and Obama won in the district of Miami Republican Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. A wash. Fascinating.

Not enough to change how Florida goes about its quadrennial business, perhaps, but fascinating nonetheless.


tjackson@tampatrib.com

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Twitter: @tjacksonTBO

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