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SRQ DAILY May 12, 2018

"At least for now, Democrats in Florida seem better positioned for November than any point in the last 30 years."

- Jacob Ogles, political analyst

[Under The Hood]  Democrats Show Up to Play in House
Jacob Ogles, jacob.ogles@srqme.com

Showing up remains the first step to victory. When the deadline passed last week for Congressional candidates to qualify, it became abundantly clear which political party in Florida had taken the necessary steps to win, and it’s not the one known for stellar organization in the Sunshine State.

Democrats in the 2018 election cycle will field candidates in all 27 Congressional districts in the state of Florida. Meanwhile, five of 11 seats now held by Democrats will go uncontested by Republican this November. Two Democrats—U.S. Reps. Kathy Castor, D-Tampa, and Lois Frankel, D-Boca Raton—just won re-election without opposition. Based on the political climate today, you can easily see Democrats win a majority of Florida’s U.S. House races for the first time since 1988.

Now, many seats Republicans must defend this fall remain in deep red territory and the Democratic candidates serve, often unknowingly, as sacrificial lambs. To use a local example, I’m not sure who will win either the Republican or Democratic primaries in the open District 17 race, but the Republican nominee will enter the general election as the overwhelming favorite. Yet the blue team still benefits overall by having a presence here. Every voter April Freeman or Bill Pollard inspires to vote on Nov. 6 likely also votes to re-elect U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson. Meanwhile, no such Republican counterpart will wander Castor’s deep blue district helping run up numbers for Gov. Rick Scott’s challenge to Nelson, and Castor’s got nothing but time to spend getting other Democrats elected.

That’s why I can’t get excited for this Senate race, even with Scott leading a poll released by Florida Atlantic University this week. I can’t get past the fact Nelson historically over-performs Dems statewide while Scott underperforms his GOP colleagues, even in Republican years (which this is not).

It’s not just that Republicans ceded nearly a fifth of Florida to Democrats this year. Candidates on the left seem stronger than ever. U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Sarasota, faces a better-funded and opponent more serious than he’s faced since he won his first term in 2006 in a nail-biter against Christine Jennings. David Shapiro boasts half a million in cash on hand, and while that’s just a fifth of Buchanan’s $2.5 million warchest, this won’t be one of those cycles where the incumbent sits on his money and lets his good name carry him to re-election.

Other incumbents seem in serious trouble. U.S. Rep Carlos Curbelo, R-Miami, barely won two years ago in a district where Donald Trump lost badly. U.S. Reps. Brian Mast, R-Port St. Lucie, and Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Doral, represent areas where Trump won by small to marginal amounts. Then you have U.S. Reps. Dennis Ross, R-Lakeland, and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Miami, who chose not to seek re-election. Ros-Lehtinen’s district honestly seems flipped already, with former Clinton Health and Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala leading the field.

Meanwhile, two Democrats—U.S. Reps. Charlie Crist, D-Tampa, and Stephanie Murphy, D-Orlando—would normally need to brace for big fights in November. Like Buchanan, they likely can’t hold back on re-election efforts this year. But national handicapper Larry Sabato moved both Dem incumbents into his Likely Democratic column (as opposed to Lean Democratic or Toss-up). Cook Political Report lists Murphy in the same place, and leaves Crist’s district off its Competitive Races list completely. Both list Buchanan’s race as Likely Republican.

It’s increasingly obvious Democrats will be the ones with more resources and less places to waste them this year. At least for now, Democrats in Florida seem better positioned for November than any point in the last 30 years.

Jacob Ogles is senior contributing editor for SRQ Media Group. 

[Higher Education]  What Do You Tell a Graduate?
Donal O'Shea, doshea@ncf.edu

This Friday, graduating seniors at New College will come together to receive their degrees. They have worked hard and deserve recognition. But no student graduates college without help: family members, friends, or teachers who offer encouragement, and the good fortune to be born in a time and place that allowed them to attend a university in a safe and peaceful place, a privilege many individuals around the world have not enjoyed.

What can one tell these graduates? Remember that most can reasonably expect to live another seventy or eighty years. Eighty years ago it was 1938. Who could have imagined then the trauma the next decade would bring, let alone the change from then to now? What would you have said to those graduates? Eighty years hence it will be 2098. What would you say to today’s graduates?

Happily, that job goes to our commencement speaker, the distinguished international political economist Dr. Margee Ensign. She won’t have any trouble. A graduate of New College, she brings change wherever she goes. And change is the one certainty between now and 2098.

Dr. Ensign was New College student government president in 1975, when then-president Arland Christ-Janer asked her to announce to distraught and vehemently opposed students that the private New College would become a part of the State University System as a college within USF. She clearly saw the College’s financial position and was willing to defend the administration’s actions. Later, she started new academic programs at Columbia and Tulane Universities, and at the University of the Pacific. As president of American University of Nigeria for seven years, she transformed the institution into the leading instrument of development and change in that area of Africa. She personally rescued girls who had escaped from Boko Haram and arranged for them to enter the university. She is now president of Dickinson College, one of America’s oldest and most distinguished liberal arts colleges, and has begun to change it, building on its traditions of social engagement and international education.

Dr. Ensign will know that, like her, each graduate has proposed, shaped, researched and finished a substantial project or thesis. Each has presented and defended it before at least three faculty members, colleagues and friends. The graduates have learned to write and to talk about their interests, to ask questions, to evaluate evidence, and to decide on next steps. They have learned to learn. And they have acquired confidence in themselves.

That confidence will be on display as the sun sets and graduates walk across the stage in front of cheering families and friends. Few will wear a formal suit or gown, and fewer still traditional academic robes. Unicorns and witches, Jedi knights and wizards, and faeries and princesses will outnumber the suits. Last year, one graduate wore her thesis. For one last night, in the soft Sarasota breeze, magic and whimsy will reign, and the graduates will rush towards the future. We are in very good hands.

Dr. Donal O'Shea is president of New College of Florida 

[From Kafi Benz]  Preserving 7,000-year-old Burials Off Shore
Kafi Benz

On Monday, May 14, at 7 p.m. the Sarasota County Council of Neighborhood Associations will present John McCarthy discussing the "globally significant" archaeological site discovered submerged just off our shores and the efforts being made to protect and preserve it.

The ancient site is a rare example of a burial practice of Paleo-Indians living in Florida following the migration of humans to the western hemisphere. The site has become inundated by sea level rise since their culture flourished on a much larger Florida peninsula 7,000 years ago, but surprisingly, it was preserved because of their unusual burial practices. National Geographic described the site as an "unprecedented find."

Honored in May 2017 by the Historical Society of Sarasota County as a hero of history, Mr. McCarthy is a renowned local historian and environmentalist. He also will be recognized as person of the year for 2018 at the annual fundraiser celebrating the 57th anniversary of CONA in November at Michael’s Wine Cellar. Currently, he is the executive director of Gulf Coast Heritage Association and Historic Spanish Point, which, along with the Florida department of state and the Gulf Coast Community Foundation, is providing the program.

Mr. McCarthy is a native Floridian who has lived in Sarasota most of his life. Prior to joining the team at Historic Spanish Point, he was the executive director of SCOPE (Sarasota County Openly Plans for Excellence). In 2012, he retired from Sarasota County government after a career of 33 years. His roles at the county included environmental specialist, county historian and director of parks and recreation. He has served as president of the Florida Recreation and Parks Association Foundation and the Historical Society of Sarasota County.

Mr. McCarthy is a frequent presenter of local history lectures, educational programs, and tours and an author of related articles in local media.

This is a regular monthly meeting of CONA. The meetings are held on second Mondays of the month at the Sarasota Garden Club. See www.conasarasota.org/meetings.html for more information about CONA.

Kafi Benz is the president of CONA. 

[SCOOP ]  CAC Breaks Ground in the Sailor Circus Arena

A new era of circus arts legacy has begun. This week The Circus Arts Conservatory officially broke ground in the iconic Sailor Circus Arena for a $4 million renovation that will provide air conditioning, state-of-the-art flooring and retractable seating. You can be part of this historic renovation. This fundraising campaign is now public to help reach the final goal of $4 million. Join The Circus Arts Conservatory in expanding opportunities for people locally, nationally and globally to experience the circus arts, right here on the Suncoast. 

(Photos by Cliff Roles & Jacqueline Taylor) 

Circus Arts Conservatory

[SCOOP]  Veterans Open House

As part of Military Appreciation Month, Goodwill Manasota will present a Veterans Open House, for veterans and their families, on Friday, May 25 at the Goodwill Veterans Services Center on Lockwood Ridge. Guests will enjoy a light lunch and hear from numerous community partners who serve veterans and their families. The Veterans Open House will also offer a first look at the newly-renovated Veterans Services Center. The William G. and Marie Selby Foundation provided a generous grant of $50,000 to help spruce up the facility  and enable Goodwill Manasota to expand its service offerings to the community. The Veterans Open House is free and no RSVP is necessary. All area veterans and their families are invited to attend. 

Goodwill Manasota

[SCOOP ]  SMH Accreditation Expands Weight Loss Surgery Options

Patients seeking weight-loss surgery have a top-tier choice at Sarasota Memorial Hospital, now a nationally accredited program that meets the highest standards for patient safety and quality of care. SMH’s Bariatric & Metabolic Health Center has been accredited as a higher level “Comprehensive Center” under the Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery Accreditation and Quality Improvement Program (MBSAQIP), a joint program of the American College of Surgeons and the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery. The designation signifies that the SMH bariatric team meets the highest standards established in the nation for the care of bariatric patients and that its surgeons have the specialized skills, experience and successful outcomes to manage patients with complex disease. As an MBSAQIP accredited center, the SMH team can treat patients beyond the age and BMI limits placed on lower acuity programs. The accreditation also provides access to treatment closer to home for people whose insurance plans require accreditation for coverage. 

Sarasota Memorial Healthcare

[KUDOS ]  HSSC Four-Star Rated for 3 Years

For the third consecutive year, the Humane Society of Sarasota County’s strong financial health and commitment to accountability and transparency have earned it another 4-star rating from Charity Navigator, America’s largest independent charity evaluator. Of the more than 1,500 Sarasota-based non-profit organizations, only 10 were awarded Charity Navigator’s 4-star rating, and HSSC is the only 4-star animal welfare organization in Sarasota. In the entire United States, HSSC is part of a preeminent group of just 141 animal welfare organizations that are 4-star rated. “It’s important our donors trust that we’re using our funding wisely to accomplish our mission of engaging the hearts, hands, and minds of the community to help animals,” said Christen Benson, Executive Director of the Humane Society of Sarasota County. “Our 4-star Charity Navigator rating demonstrates to our supporters that not only do we set high standards for governance, transparency, and accountability—we meet them.” 

Humane Society of Sarasota County

[SCOOP]  Mother's Day Gift

For your Mother's Day gift, come to the Bazaar on Apricot and Lime located at 821 Apricot.  Every Child, Inc., a local not for profit serving the children of Sarasota for the last 18 years, is now selling their one of a kind glass flowers made with vintage pieces at the Bazaar. Purchasing of one of their flowers will not only provide a wonderful gift for your mother, but also help the children of Sarasota.  

Every Child, Inc.

SRQ Media Group

SRQ DAILY is produced by SRQ | The Magazine. 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. Senior Editor Jacob Ogles edits the Saturday Perspective Edition, Letters and Guest Contributor columns.In the CocoTele department, SRQ DAILY is providing excerpts from news releases as a public service. Reference to any specific product or entity does not constitute an endorsement or recommendation by SRQ DAILY. The views expressed by individuals are their own and their appearance in this section does not imply an endorsement of them or any entity they represent. For rates on SRQ DAILY banner advertising and sponsored content opportunities, please contact Ashley Ryan Cannon at 941-365-7702 x211 or via email

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