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SRQ Daily Aug 26, 2017

Saturday Perspectives Edition

Saturday Perspectives Edition

"Blue hearts have broken here before."

- Jacob Ogles

[Under The Hood]  Can District 72 Swing?
Jacob Ogles, jacob.ogles@srqme.com

News that Alex Miller would resign her state House seat and prompt a special election had Gulf Coast Democrats salivating enough to merit a slip-and-fall hazard warning. Why? Miller represents about the closest thing to a swing district in the region, and with President Trump holding record-low approval ratings, this odd-year election creates the rare chance to win a seat that by normal metrics they “should” lose.

Of course, blue hearts have broken here before. What would it actually take to compete District 72? That question warrants an instant “Where The Votes Are” analysis, one looking exclusively at party make-up and voter enthusiasm in recent elections.

Some background. Democrats and Republicans (Shirley Brown, Donna Clarke, Keith Fitzgerald, Ray Pilon) alternately represented this area through the late ‘90s and 2000s, but the seat in 2012 was redrawn by the Legislature to lean more Republican. When Miller ran for the open seat in November, she won in a landslide against Democrat Ed James III, with 58.1 percent of the vote.

But was that election the norm? Not really. First, 2016 was a presidential election and Trump won Florida, so every Republican sharing the ballot enjoyed some lift. Second, James in the final weeks of the campaign suffered an Access Hollywood-caliber sex scandal that led his own party to withdraw its endorsement. The climate’s a little different now, with an unpopular Republican president casting a shadow on all political stories (including this one). While he elevated party members in November, he weighs them down now. Turnout in a special election will also surely be low, so the enthusiasm of the base will be what decides a victor.

That said, Republicans already have a strong frontrunner, James Buchanan, the son of a popular congressman and someone who already raised $163,000 to run in 2018 (albeit in a different district). The coffer and name recognition give so significant an edge that Republican Party of Sarasota chairman Joe Gruters considers Buchanan the prohibitive nominee. Democrats, meanwhile, will have multiple candidates jump in, which will raise their profile but deplete resources.

This still looks like a tough race for Democrats based on the numbers alone. Republicans in District 72 today outnumber Democrats by 12,380 votes, a gap that represents 10 percent of the potential electorate. They also turned out at a markedly better rate than Democrats in November, and worst of all, it appears that nonpartisan and third-party voters also broke three-to-two for Miller.

Of course, a November sample isn’t representative of a special election electorate, but Republicans also enjoyed better turnout in the district during the August 2016 primary, when more than 30 percent of Republicans now registered voted, but just 29 percent of Democrats did the same. Of course, there weren’t any major statewide primaries. And Miller had a primary opponent last year (John Hill) while James did not. Maybe we should call turnout a wash, but that still means Republicans outnumbers Dems at the polls by more than 4,000.

There is good news for Democrats, though, when you look at the subset of District 72 voters who participated in the technically-nonpartisan-but-hahahaha Sarasota city election in May. About 15,000 city voters live in this district, and of those most are Democrats. More significant, in the city race, Democrats outperformed Republicans in terms of turnout, and likely won over many of the GOP voters there. Team Blue painted the lone Republican in the race as a mini-Trump and destroyed him at the polls. Sure, municipal turnout remained anemic, but Dems ran away with what little vote was there and the special election turnout will be anemic as well.

Yet, District 72 isn’t deep blue municipal Sarasota. Any sober look at the numbers still gives the edge to the GOP, and Republicans boast a tremendous outreach in Sarasota County. But could this district swing? Absolutely. This will be an expensive race watched statewide, and Democrats are right to think the contest can be won by the right candidate in a political environment that makes it hard to run red.

Jacob Ogles is contributing senior editor to SRQ Media Group. 

[Education]  A Season of New
Dr. Larry Thompson, lthompso@ringling.edu

Without a doubt, each and every phase of the academic year has its own distinctive character—but the fall season is truly my favorite. It’s the time when new energy flows back into the arteries of our fine campus with the vibrancy of new and returning students, faculty and staff. And it is a time like no other at Ringling College of Art and Design.

Just last week during our Orientation activities, we welcomed 458 new students and their families to campus. They were joined at the beginning of this week by over 1,000 returning students, along with 17 new faculty members and almost 140 fellow faculty, not to mention over 200 staff members. Needless to say, the campus is bustling with activity. And here’s the wondrous part of those numbers: each and every individual coming to campus brings their own unique experience, knowledge, and perspective to campus, which effortlessly establishes an open, creative community that is free to inspire the vitality and creativity of the institution. It’s a bit like magic, this feeling. Ah, fall semester. It’s magical.

You can tangibly feel the enormous energy and potential for growth and change in the air. As students get settled into their dorms, learn about their roommates, look for the cafeteria, find their way to classes and start down new paths toward their goals, we encourage them to embrace the change and stay open to the possibility that inherently comes from these experiences and connections. After all, change is inevitable. And it’s often a good—no, make that a great—thing. In fact, there have been some notable changes at the College over the summer that we’ve been excitedly anticipating. For one, on the administration side of things, we welcomed Dr. Peter McAllister, our new vice president for academic affairs. Dr. McAllister brings to the team his invaluable experience as an academic leader, educator and accomplished musician, and I know I, and all of us at the College, look forward to working with him and learning from him.

Further, on the infrastructure side of things, we fully opened to students the Richard and Barbara Basch Visual Arts Center this past Monday—just in time for the new six studio/classrooms to be used. This visually stunning building is designed and built to accommodate hands-on fabrication and art-making with facilities for glass blowing, woodworking, printmaking, photography, sculpture and digital fabrication, and it also includes six much-needed new studio/classroom spaces. The building also encompasses our newest campus gallery, the Lois and David Stulberg Gallery. The Center is an architectural gem; it is positively inspirational. And, we encourage you to visit campus and experience it for yourself, because passersby are granted a sneak-peak view of our artists at work.

Change and possibility are indeed in the air at Ringling College, with over 1,800 individuals teeming about our 50-plus acres, stimulated by innovative thoughts and challenging ideas. And while we don’t experience a true changing of the leaves here in Sarasota, one can undoubtedly feel the shift. Fall is upon us! This is one of the most rewarding times for me as a college president—a time of true transformation for our students, faculty and staff, and for our creative community as a whole.

Dr. Larry Thompson is president of Ringling College of Art and Design. 

[SCOOP]  Delta Enhances Seasonal Service at SRQ Airport

Delta Air Lines will enhance seasonal service at the Sarasota Bradenton International Airport (SRQ) by adding nonstop flights to the John F. Kennedy Airport (JFK) during the upcoming 2017-2018 season. Daily service will begin on December 21, 2017 through January 2, 2018, followed by Saturday-only service through March 31, 2018. The new service will complement Delta’s existing year-round daily nonstop service to New York LaGuardia (LGA), their multiple year-round daily flights to Atlanta (ATL), and their seasonal service to Detroit, MI (DTW) which returns on December 21, 2017, and will run through April 1, 2018.  

Sarasota Bradenton International Airport

[SCOOP]  The Spa and Salon at The Westin Sarasota's Local Promotion

As season approaches, The Spa and Salon at The Westin Sarasota is giving back to our locals by offering Smooth and Sublime Facials and Classic Swedish Massages for $89.00 each as well as 15% off product in their retail boutique. Located within the walls of the new Westin Sarasota, the spa and salon’s extensive menu offers a wide variety of rejuvenating treatments in a relaxing environment. To book your appointment, please call 941-260-8275. A valid local ID must be present upon arrival.   

The Spa and Salon at The Westin Sarasota

[SCOOP]  Heros Month

This September, Goodwill Manasota is celebrating veterans, first responders, firefighters, police officers and every day heroes in Sarasota and Manatee Counties. All month long, local businesses will participate in activities and promotions to honor local heroes while also donating to Goodwill Manasota's Veterans Services Program. Culver’s on University will offer a special red, white and blue Hero Custard during September and host a Hero Night on September 5. Barb McSweeney Jewelry will be selling a Hero Strand necklace with pearls and leather, JDubs Brewing Company has created three new red, white and blue brew flights, and Children's World will host a Honor Our Heroes Give Back Event. All proceeds from these activities will benefit Goodwill Manasota’s Veterans Services program.  

Goodwill Manasota

[SCOOP ]  HSSC'S 13th Annual Golf Tournament

The Humane Society of Sarasota County’s 13th Annual Golf Tournament will take place on September 23, at Laurel Oak Country Club where guests can participate in a rousing round of 18 on one of Sarasota’s most challenging courses. After the tournament, guests will settle in for a lunch reception and the announcement of the winning teams along with prizes, a 50/50 drawing, and of course, adoptable animals. Whether it’s for the cause, for the competition, or for fun, we encourage all levels of golfers to join HSSC on the course.   

Humane Society of Sarasota County

[SCOOP]  CPC's Personal Safety & Community Awareness Program

It is 'bIt is back-to-school' time for Sarasota County students and families. For CPC's Personal Safety & Community Awareness Program (PSCA), back-to-school means preparing Prevention Educators for the new school year as well as updating the prevention curriculum with the most current materials and resources. CPC’s unique program lessons utilize empirically-based prevention curriculum targeting specific grade levels that build upon each year. They are currently scheduling presentations at all grade levels, with only a few openings remaining in January 2018. 

Child Protection Center

[SCOOP]  JFCS Adds New Director of Veterans Services

JFCS of the Suncoast has appointed Jocene Henderson as Director of Veterans Services, where she will oversee and work to expand supportive services to homeless and at-risk veterans in six counties. A retired army sergeant major with more than 30 years’ military experience, Henderson spent the previous nine years in a variety of capacities for the Veterans Outreach Center in Rochester, N.Y. “Jocey’s knowledge of military culture, organization and the effects of military service on veterans and families made her an ideal choice for JFCS’ director of veterans services position,” said Heidi Brown, President/CEO of JFCS of the Suncoast.  “In addition, her excellent communication and facilitation skills as well as her ability to develop and maintain collaborative relationships allow us to meet the needs of both internal and external stakeholders.” 

Jewish Family and Children's Services

[SOON]  HEALTH: Grey Matters: A Symposium on Alzheimer's Research , September 22, 11am-1:30pm

The Roskamp Institute is hosting a Brain Health and Awareness Symposium this September the 22nd at The Sarasota Yacht Club. The aptly named Grey Matters Symposium will offer a deep dive into current Alzheimer’s research by Institute Directors and will be moderated by ABC7’s Hayley Wielgus. There will be a presentation, interactive panel, and an opportunity for Q & A. For more information or to become a sponsor today please call (941) 552-9832 or visit www.roskampinstitute.org/events.

Sarasota Yacht Club , 1100 John Ringling Blvd, Sarasota, FL 34236

SRQ Media Group

SRQ DAILY is produced by SRQ | The Magazine and edited by Senior Editor Jacob Ogles. Note: The views and opinions expressed in the Saturday Perspectives Edition and in the Letters department of SRQ DAILY are those of the author(s) and do not imply endorsement by SRQ Media. For rates on SRQ DAILY banner advertising, please contact Ashley Ryan at 941-365-7702 x211 or at her contact page. To unsubscribe, please click here.

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