This week saw the arrival, and departure, of Tropical Storm Isaac, which briefly threatened to end the Republican National Convention in Tampa.
The RNC, one of the biggest events to happen in the Tampa Bay area in years, was not cancelled once Isaac veered towards the northwest and away from west central Florida. In fact, the quadrennial gathering of the Republican Party faithful proceeded, although the festivities were shortened slightly. In addition to writing the party’s platform, the overarching purpose of the convention is to nominate the party’s standard bearer through the remainder of the presidential election season and beyond.
Although the respective major party conventions are national in nature, their impact on state government is immense. Not only do state governmental leaders share the spotlight with national figures this week, the convention is truly the kick-off of an election season that may alter for many years to come the makeup of Florida’s government at all levels.
The coattail effect is a well known phenomenon that can sweep members of the victorious presidential party into office from Congress to the state house and even locally. The polar opposite is the dreaded anti-incumbent movement. Sometimes people are voted out of office just because they are already in office. Others don’t make it because they are implicitly affiliated with the individual at the top of the ticket who has become a poster child for what may be wrong with the respective party in power. Each election cycle is unique. World events and domestic challenges all play a part in determining who wins and who does not.
This presidential election year coincides with the first election of Florida’s newly apportioned Congressional and state legislative districts. In some districts incumbents are running against incumbents. In others, incumbents are being challenged by newcomers. No matter the makeup of any given race, the impact will be felt far beyond this election cycle. Legislative leadership, as well as Congressional leadership, will be influenced many years into the future. The RNC is the first of two conventions that usher in an election cycle that will play a great role in guiding Florida, and the United States, for years to come.
Although most of Florida was spared the tropical devastation that threatened our state for the week leading up to the convention, it is imperative that we not forget our friends and neighbors from the Panhandle west to Texas. These people may feel the impact of Isaac in the coming days. Please keep them in your thoughts and prayers. When a storm misses one place it must end up somewhere else. Our fellow Americans who live along the Gulf Coast may not be hosting a national convention, but nonetheless have lives and property that are just as vulnerable as ours are.
I welcome your comments and questions about the electoral process, the Florida Legislature, state government or any related matters. Please feel free to leave your questions in the comment section and I will answer them in an upcoming post. If there is a specific topic you would like me to write about please let me know as well. I look forward to responding to your comments!