Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Steve Flowers: Inside The Statehouse: The Tampa coronation

  The Republican Convention is next week in Tampa, Florida. It is not by accident that this central Florida city has been chosen by the GOP for their national convention. They want to do everything under the sun to ingratiate themselves to Floridians.

  Under our Electoral College system only about six, maybe ten states matter in the process. I refer to it as a process rather than an election because our archaic Electoral College system of selecting our president is not really a national election. The states of Florida, Ohio, Colorado, Missouri, North Carolina and Virginia are the battleground states. The most important of these swing states is Florida. It is the grand prize with 29 electoral votes.

  Therefore, Florida is the right location for the GOP to hold their confab. Furthermore, Tampa is the right city and region of Florida. The Tampa, St. Petersburg, Orlando I-10 corridor of Florida is the ultimate battleground. Four years ago there $12 million was spent on television for McCain and Obama in the Tampa/Orlando media market. In comparison, there was no money spent in California and zero spent here in Alabama.

  Again, under our Electoral College system there will be no money spent here or in any of our sister southern states again this year. Before you feel cheated, there will be no money spent in California or New York either and they comprise 20% of all the country’s people.

  It is a foregone conclusion that New York and California will vote Democratic for president and it is a safe bet that Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, Tennessee and South Carolina will vote Republican. Therefore, we will be ignored. Any money raised here or in New York will be spent in Florida or Ohio. In fact, in the 2008 election campaign, money was spent in only ten states. Forty states, including us, were ignored. You will probably not even be able to get a bumper sticker or yard sign locally for your favorite presidential candidate this year.

  The party conventions are simply coronations today. In bygone days we saw brokered conventions. Decisions as to who would lead our nation were made in smoke-filled backrooms by political bosses from the big cities. Today’s open primary process may not make for as intriguing a convention, but it is a lot cleaner and more transparent. The winner of the primary elections held throughout the nation produces a nominee that has been scrutinized, dissected, criticized, fully vetted and then chosen by the voters. The one with the most delegates is selected and you, the voter, have the final say as to who that nominee is ultimately.

  The results of our March 13th Primary will have our state casting votes at the convention for three candidates. Rick Santorum will get 22 votes, Newt Gingrich will receive 13 and the ultimate nominee, Mitt Romney, will be awarded 12 delegate votes from Alabama.

  Mitt Romney is the best candidate that the GOP could have selected to face Barack Obama. Santorum, Gingrich, Rick Perry and others appealed to the extreme conservatives within the party. However, they each staked out positions on social issues that were not the feelings of mainstream American independent voters today, especially in the swing states. These voters will decide the election. Mitt Romney is considered a moderate and can appeal to these voters.

  History reveals and political scientists will concur that the choice of a vice presidential candidate does not affect the election. However, this year could be the exception. Romney’s choice of Paul Ryan was a surprise. Most political pundits assumed that either Ohio Senator Rob Portman or Florida Senator Marc Rubio would be Romney’s choice, simply because they bring their state into the fold.

  Paul Ryan is an unknown congressman from Wisconsin. He is, however, well known on Capitol Hill. He is Chairman of the House Budget Committee. He is very conservative. As Chairman of the Budget Committee, he authored a plan that seeks to curb entitlement spending and dramatically cut and change welfare, food stamps and Medicaid in order to balance the federal budget. He is the darling, hero and face of the Tea Party.

  The Republican Convention next week in Tampa will be designed and scripted for television. They hope that it will sway some independent voters to their side, especially the ones just outside the convention hall in Orlando and Tampa.

  See you next week.

  About the author: Steve Flowers is Alabama’s leading political columnist. His column appears weekly in more than 70 Alabama newspapers. Steve served 16 years in the state legislature. He may be reached at http://www.steveflowers.us.

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