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As politically similar as PAC-PAC and the Dolphin Club appear to be, it's too early to tell what PAC-PAC's existence will mean for Broward County politics down the road. For some politicians, however, the new political group is a force to be reckoned with.
"PAC-PAC has been recognized now," says Fort Lauderdale City Commissioner Jack Latona, a long-time friend and supporter of the gay community. "Up to this time, the Dolphins have been the leading political entity in Broward County's gay community. Now there is one other."
Some Dolphin board members fear the new club will dilute the voting power of Broward's 100,000 gay voters. PAC-PAC may endorse Republican candidates who don't have the gay community's interests at heart, argues Shane Gunderson, former president of the Dolphins. Worse yet, if PAC-PAC's endorsements don't translate into fundraising dollars or actual votes for gay-friendly candidates, the whole community will suffer, he says. Elected officials will start to believe that Broward's gay community is all talk, no political clout.
But more than politics may be involved here.
"There's like two people in that group that are decent," Gunderson scoffs. "But the rest of them can't deliver votes because they're too self-absorbed. They're all about taking credit."
Dolphin President Bill Salicco, who didn't attend the PAC-PAC forum, pretty much dismisses the new group. "I just don't know who is going to listen to them," he says. "I mean, look at who is running the organization."
At least publicly, however, politicians who have benefited from Broward County's large gay population say PAC-PAC can help bring gay issues to the forefront of public discussion. It will provide yet another opportunity for candidates of all parties to discuss views on gay rights and gay-friendly legislation, such as same-sex marriage.
"The only downside," notes Kip Zimmerman, campaign manager for Tracy Stafford (D-Wilton Manors), "is when people from the different groups lose focus of the larger objective, which is to have their issues gain support.