So it looks like Tim Mahoney and Ron Klein have seized two long-time Republican bastions -- the latter man having sent that ol' dinosaur Clay Shaw off to the tar pits where he belongs. And you'll be hearing a lot about those races during the next couple of days. But there was another major Broward County Republican that was knocked off the saddle tonight -- county commissioner Jim Scott, a Huizenga-tied lobbyist who was whipped by political newcomer Ken Keechl.
I knew this was an interesting race and that Keechl had a shot at the upset because Ed Newton, my newspaper's managing editor, took an interest in it and broke the story on the central issue in the race back in August. In this week's edition, Newton practically predicted a Keechl victory in his piece "Golf Meets Politics." Here's how Newton described a recent political event attended by the two candidates:
Scott, a thin, leathery man with pumpkin-colored hair, gave a breezy account of his political career — 24 years in the State Senate, including two years as its president; county commissioner since 2002; a "lonely" voice for fiscal austerity and lower property taxes on the commission. He finished with a recital of a poem by G.K. Chesterton ("Chester-on," Scott called him), suggesting that Jim Scott, for one, would never be "a wrecker who roams the town, content with the labor of tearing down."
Then Scott's Democratic opponent, Ken Keechl, got up and, in the parlance of one audience member, "tore him a new one."
The issue that Keechl used to slay Scott involved the soon-to-be-former commissioner's investment in a plan to tear up the Coral Ridge Country Club and turn it into a housing development. The county commission where Scott sits would have would have had to approve it. Neighbors were steamed. Here's how Newton ends this week's piece:
This battered cylinder is taking no sides here; he just notes a surprising depth of emotion at a time when most local issues are about as compelling as discussions of water treatment and waste removal contracts. There was a visceral reaction from the 100 or so people at the meeting to Keechl's blunt attack ("You're wrong, you shouldn't have done this"). Supporters of Keechl (who had to handle an ethical question of their own regarding the candidate's law firm's involvement in a securities fraud) say that he's getting vocal support from Oakland Park, Wilton Manors, and other communities within District 4.
Will it be enough to topple a long-term incumbent? We'll see next week.
See we did.
After the jump: Bousquet and Crist, Sitting in a Tree
The St. Pete Times' Steve Bousquet's coverage of Charlie Crist always seemed to suppress an idolatrous streak. The veteran political reporter digs the preterna-tanned Crist in a big way. This little snippet on the Buzz blog, posted long before the race had been determined, seems to confirm it:
The returns suggest Crist it is going to be a great night for Crist.. "The happy warrior's" happiest moment ever. Also in the suite were Crist's sisters, grandchildren, friends, and (a sign of things to come?) FDLE agents.
The "happy warrior's" happiest moment ever? Oh yuck. Bousquet also described the hotel room where Crist waited for the results with his mom and dad. Commentators on the blog immediately noted that missing in this picture was Crist's manufactured "girlfriend" Katie Pemble.
And you didn't think Crist had a beard.
(That said, Crist should be congratulated for winning the race. Something like $50 million, including GOP cash, didn't hurt -- and the "happy warrior" proved that if you scurrilously accuse your opponent of commiserating with terrorists in enough televised advertisements, anything is possible).