By Henry Kelley
It’s Henry from Fort Walton Beach. It’s been a while since we had the chance to speak directly. Let’s back up to when we first met.
It was the summer of 2009 when the destroyer of our individual liberties and economic freedom known as “Obamacare” was in full discussion. We, the Fort Walton Beach tea partiers, saw you on a commercial for your “Citizens for Patient Rights” PAC.
We called the PAC and were told that you personally would fly up from Naples and speak to the crowd.
Being fiscal conservatives, we quickly explained that we didn’t have the funds to fly you in.
You let us know you would fly commercial, and could we pick you up at the airport and take you to a nearby Hampton Inn.
Hundreds of attendees crowded in the rain under a pavilion to hear your electric speech railing against the problems with Obamacare, many of which are coming to pass. (Don’t worry for those of you enjoying the spectacle of a tea partier calling out the governor – the problems with O’care and the current Disaster in Chief will be detailed in future columns).
Months later you announced your run for governor. I ran your Okaloosa County campaign and was pretty much the only “No Party Affiliated” person, given my deep-seated mistrust of the RPOF. As a side note – local Republicans were upset that happened – an outsider candidate actually acting like an outsider.
Everyone thinks you won because you spent $70 million, ignoring the reality of Alex Sink’s interminably dull campaign and the staggeringly inept Florida Democratic Party.
Few know about the blistering hot days spent in towns like DeFuniak Springs, where you spent time shaking hands and engaging in retail politics. That is the story I have enjoyed telling – watching you on the campaign trail working your tail off.
I was pleased when you answered my question and said you would kill high-speed rail. I didn’t think to ask you about SunRail, which will cost the citizens of Orlando taxes ad infinitum, but that’s spilt milk and millions in tax subsidies for Central Florida.
In your first session, you cut hundreds of millions from the state budget, and there was hope that the Republican Party of Florida might actually have found an allegiance to Republican principles.
Then there was a changing of the Palace Guard and the need for “approval” came into play. You approved a Medicaid bill with known flaws and tremendous cost to the counties. There was the inexplicable creation of the 12th university, while funding for other universities was cut. Private prisons didn’t make it to your desk in part due to my efforts, but you would have approved that instantly.
You applauded putting $1 billion additionally into K-12.
So a year after friends who are state employees attacked me personally for “costing” them money, you decide it’s politically advantageous to funnel money back to the system you went against in the campaign.
Here’s a side note for you, governor. You could give the Florida Education Association $100 billion a year – they will never vote for you.
I’d mention illegal immigration reform, but since that wasn’t even brought up in 2012, there’s not much to discuss.
While there’s much more, let’s close with the political cave-in on the “Stand Your Ground law.” Last I checked, we still have a Legislature, and they hold committee meetings. A limited-government leader would have directed efforts there, but now you’ve created an extra use of valuable tax dollars on a panel that has no statutory ability to affect anything.
So here’s the message. I worked hard for you to act strongly as the third branch of government – the mighty veto pen when the Republican super-majority loses its constitutional mind or acts in a fiscally irresponsible manner.
You looked me in the eye in December 2010 and asked me to hold you accountable. So governor, the replacement of your chief of staff is all insider talk and meaningless to me as a voter.
You are the person I supported, and you hold the veto pen.
Since no Republican will mount a serious threat to you in 2014, we must work through a now uneasy relationship, and this letter is expressing my disappointment.
Governor, this is one tea partier trying to hold you accountable. I’ll be there in Session in 2013 with a defined agenda, just like this year, and we’ll see what happens in 2014. Don’t worry about calling – actions at my age are far more important than words.
Henry Kelley, a Fort Walton Beach business owner, is an active leader of the Florida tea party movement.