Buckle up, Buttercup. It’s election time in Hernando County, home of the bare-knuckle politics.
Candidates crowded Nature Coast High School’s cafeteria for Politics in the Park fundraiser hosted by Hernando County Chamber of Commerce, a pay-to-play event in the campaign circuit.
The tightly aligned rows of tables with candidates hovering about gave the odd appearance of buzzards feasting on prey. Hernando County Republican Executive Committee’s table was front and center, all decked out in red, white and blue. The Democrat Executive Committee table was squished over in a section with all their candidates to the right of the door. It’s probably the only time the Democrats have been on the right side of anything.
The side show atmosphere drew curious crowds of onlookers and supporters, hovering over candidate’s tables, grasping at brochures. Some candidates had a tough sell trying to pitch the crowds while other savvy politicians lured the unsuspecting prospects with elixirs and snake oil, like brightly colored M & M’s and miniature candy bars.
Who was that distinguished man in a black suit approaching with his hand out. He seemed to be a familiar face in the sea of newcomers to the political ring. Why, yes, it was David Russell, candidate for Hernando County Commission, District 5. His silver-gray hair was a dead giveaway. Smiling and pressing the flesh with constituents seems to come naturally to this seasoned politician with his steady leadership ability.
Soft-spoken Roy Martin worked the crowd introducing himself, hoping to be voters choice for Republican State Committeeman for Hernando County. His opponent, who also happens to be running for state representative was tethered to a candidate table, trying to connect the crowds shuffling past.
County Commission candidate for District 1 gave the appearance he was in complete control, standing tall and proud, proving there are no ex-Marines. In the world of veterans, the saying goes “once a Marine, always a Marine.” And so goes it for Michael Larocca who hopes to use his leadership skills to lead our county as a commissioner.
Justin Grabelle is a breath of fresh air in the race for Congress for 11th District, pledging to end career politics in Washington and stand up for people by fighting the overreach of power by the elites, like his opponent Daniel Webster who is a career politician. Webster packed his carpet bag after redistricting and jumped into the 11th District race after he assumed he had an easy ride back to elite status in Washington circle.
One new face for County Commission District 3 who greeted people with warmth and sincerity was John Allocco. Lovely young women wearing Allocco campaign gear were handing out literature about achieving sustainable growth in our county while balancing the tax base.
Large screen images of candidates projected on the wall, with no audible sound, giving stump speeches gave the surreal atmosphere of Happy Hour at Cheers. You could almost envision Cliff and Norm bellied up to the bar, sharing a beer and a tall story to pass the night away.