Eye on Miami
September 26, 2016
State House District 79 is in Fort Myers. Florida voters are well served to understand a little of what makes Tallahassee tick. This is one race where the choices facing Florida are fully visible. It is a David versus Goliath battle, and I support John Scott, the underdog challenging Big Sugar's salesman in Tallahassee, incumbent state representative Matt Caldwell.
Scott was born and raised in Hialeah. He lives and works as an information technology professional in North Fort Myers and is a volunteer leader for Sierra Club. Although this is Scott's first venture into politics, he has chosen an extraordinarily important challenge against an incumbent who defines a status quo that is wrecking Florida. On his campaign website, Scott writes:
"... The power and influence of certain special interests over our elected officials has silenced the voice of the people in Tallahassee. I'm running for Florida State House District 79 to be "The People's Voice"." The Caloosahatchee River and our coastal ocean waters are being ruined. Jobs, real estate values, fishing and our tourism industry are all at risk because of terrible environmental policies spearheaded by Matt Caldwell and signed into law by Governor Rick Scott. Florida's water and environment should not be partisan issues. I will fight with every ounce of my being to protect the water and natural beauty that makes Florida "paradise". The people of District 79, and all of Florida, deserve better. We all want fairness in our society. Our government should be powered by the people and add value to our lives without over-reaching. I respectfully ask for your vote so I can represent YOU in Tallahassee and NOT special interests who focus on their own agenda while destroying our way of life. Thank you for your support."
are a thousand reasons that someone like John Scott should be elected to the
state legislature, and only one reason he faces a steep uphill struggle. The
Goliath is this race, incumbent state representative Matt Caldwell, is a
stand-in for polluters threatened by the "Arab Spring" in Florida
that galvanized voters on both Florida coasts after historic rainfall in the winter
Caldwell lives in Lehigh Acres, the epicenter of Florida's housing boom and bust. The district he represents is bisected by one of our state's badly polluted rivers, the Caloosahatchee. The gunk that flows out of Lake Okeechobee makes its way through the Caloosahatchee and then up and down the gulf coast.
In a political sense, District 79 is like a clamp that holds state water management polices for Big Sugar. If Big Sugar can't hold District 79, there is no telling what could happen to its downstream interests. Predictably, campaign cash -- both in direct contributions and political action committees -- has flooded in to protect Caldwell. What looks on paper as a 10-1 advantage favoring the Goliath in FL House race for District 79 could easily be five or ten times that ratio once political committee dark money is factored in.