On February 14, 2015, I wrote a letter to Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus which stated, in part:
Dear Mr. Priebus:
I received my first voter registration card just in time to vote for Richard Nixon in 1968. Continuing my parents’ fealty to the Republican Party, I’ve been red to the core — until now.
I relocated from Washington, D.C. to Florida some thirty years ago, and my loyalty to the Republican Party continued. Almost always, I’ve voted for our Party’s candidates in State and national elections, straying only when a non-Republican candidate was much more aligned with my core beliefs. Yet I remained loyal to the Party until about six years ago when our top Republican leadership in Congress gradually started to mutate. Judging from the dismally low approval ratings of Congressional members on both sides of the aisle, a lot of Americans share my disgust with their rabid partisanship.
Now we come to the Winter Park election for mayor which is a non-partisan election. Republican, Democratic or Independent party intervention has no place in local Winter Park elections. It’s irrelevant, offensive and unwelcome.
A few weeks ago, my wife and I received a mailer from the Orange County Republican Party identifying Republican Steve Leary’s opponent, Cynthia Mackinnon, as a Democrat and Party contributor. Both candidates made public statements condemning the biased mailer as inappropriate and having no place in a nonpartisan election. Yet on February 13, 2015, we received a second mailer from the Orange County Republican Party endorsing Mr. Leary as “the only Republican and the only conservative in this race.” A reasonable person might opine it a stretch that Mr. Leary’s campaign didn’t know about this mailer in advance. As a minimum, he should publicly admonish the Republican Party’s interference with this election.
Regrettably, as a result of the repeated bonehead actions of the local Republican Party committee interfering in our local politics, we have just been pushed over the edge. We will be mailing you our shredded voter cards as we won’t need them in the upcoming Winter Park election. But don’t worry, we won’t be joining the Democratic Party– it’s just as flawed.
Calling Out Orange County Republicans
A day after transmitting my letter to Mr. Priebus, I spoke with a gentleman from the Orange County Republican Party. This fellow, who didn’t live in Winter Park, was aware of the key issues debated in this mayoral campaign and stated that both parties had intervened into our mayoral election, intimating that my objection was naïve.
Could DPAC Play a Role in GOP Strategy?
He stated that the mayor-elect would have an impact on regional Party initiatives and elections outside of Winter Park, thus it was important that a Republican win the election for mayor. Could one example of an initiative “outside of Winter Park” be the $1,000,000 contribution from Winter Park’s coffers to Orlando’s Center of the Performing Arts voted for by Mr. Leary?
Dems Back Off WP Mayor Campaign
After concluding our conversation, he forwarded me an email link to the Democratic Party website which I visited and indeed, I found some references to events supporting Mrs. Mackinnon. I forwarded this link to the Mackinnon campaign and all references on the Democratic Party website were purged within hours. I shared this action with my new friend from the Republican Party office and suggested that Mr. Leary likewise advise the Republicans to desist from all future intervention. I haven’t heard from him since.
I don’t consider myself naïve, but for those who might, that’s okay. I realize that partisan politics have played a role to some degree in prior Winter Park nonpartisan elections but nothing like this election.
Drops GOP Affiliation
I’m very comfortable with my decision to switch my party affiliation and maybe should have done it sooner. Maybe more voters who continue to be appalled with the obstructionism and childish behavior of our national leaders should likewise send a message to their respective parties.
I can only hope that my initiative, however miniscule, will help deter partisan mischief in Winter Park elections. The business of Winter Park should be decided by its citizens without unwelcome partisan influence from non-stakeholders.
Is Anyone Else Fed Up with Partisan Interference?
My wife Priscilla and I have just received our new No Party Affiliation voter cards and are more comfortable than ever with our decision.
Anyone else had enough?
Former Republicans Michael Dick and his wife Priscilla Church live in Winter Park and are now independent voters.
To view the commission candidates’ debate, click here.
Special Election 2015 Section in The Voice
Campaign Treasurer’s Reports can be found on the City of Winter Park website at http://cityofwinterpark.org/government/city-info/election-info/financial-reports/.
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