An Open Letter to the People of Florida’s 13th Congressional District: Draft Keith Fitzgerald

Dear citizens of Florida’s 13th Congressional District:

You don’t remember me.  You don’t even know me.  I don’t even live in your district (I’m in the 10th, but that’s a story for another day).

And yet there are nights when I dream about your precincts.  I have every bump and nuance of Route 41, north to south, tattooed on my brain.  I can see your neighborhoods when I close my eyes.  I can still taste Rico’s pizza.

I can still remembering heading out to Hardee County and DeSoto County to campaign.  The desolation.  The rodeo (true story).

In 2002, you and I underwent a profound change.  For you, it was for the worse.  Katherine Harris, the should-have-been disgraced former Florida Secretary of State, who only two years prior had abetted George W. Bush and the U.S. Supreme Court in stealing the 2000 Election, was about to become your next Member of Congress.

I was there managing the campaign of the woman who could have beaten her, if there had been any political will to do so.  You certainly deserved it.  It is a shame on us all that we did not follow through for you.

Well, that’s what I was doing professionally.  What was actually happening to me was that I was falling in love.  I met Duncan on that campaign, and we’ve been together ever since.  Nearly ten years.

I got the better deal.  By a far sight.

But people of District 13, it is not too late for you.  In fact, your time may have finally come.  And I’m going to tell you how.

In early 2002, I was looking for supporters for the campaign and found one in a New College professor named Keith Fitzgerald.  Talking to him for the first time was a profound experience, and I had a suspicion I’d hear about him again.  He asked me what I needed, and I told him volunteers.

He offered me some students — including a “star,” which would turn out to be Duncan (she hates it when I mention that part) — and as for me, it’s been a fantastic life, and things can only get better.

Democrats got walloped in 2002 — an anomalous election inasmuch as the president’s party usually loses seats in the off-presidential years.  This was just after the Iraq invasion and the country was in a mood to support Bush.

The congressional race in 2004 was unkind to the Democrats in your district.  Jan Schneider lost that race after a contentious battle as well.  It was a real joy to watch Harris go down to miserable defeat against Bill Nelson in 2006, but back in your neck of the woods, the Democrats re-hashed the old battles, and this time Christine Jennings survived the brutal primary against Jan and ultimately lost to Vern Buchanan.

Vern Buchanan has proven himself to be one of the most corrupt Members of Congress, which is saying something.

And yet I’m not so sure you all care as much about Vern’s many, many ethical lapses (alleged or otherwise).  You’ve suffered with the corruption of Buchanan for nearly six years, the nonsense of Harris four before that.  Prior to that, you had to deal a guy named Dan Miller, a back-bencher who never really accomplished much in his ten years in Congress.

Prior to that, it was actually a different looking district.  And it will be again soon.

What your new district will look like, I don’t really know.

What I do know is that you have a shot at real representation in Congress.  Not a political wallflower.  Not an ambitious clown.  Not a corrupt thug.

A real Member of Congress: Keith Fitzgerald.

I am proposing that you go to the Draft Keith Facebook page and hit the “like” button.  Right now.

See, now that Haridopolos is out of the U.S. Senate race, Vern is giving it serious consideration.  This is not just an opportunity for Democrats — it’s an opporunity for you.

Take a look at our friend Keith Fitzgerald.  Head over to the Facebook page.  Hit the like button.

Election Day — Tuesday, November 6 — 2012, will be here faster than you think.  Whether Keith is on the ballot or not, you will have a profound choice to make.  This is your chance to have a real Congressman who can make a difference.

The choice, as it always has been, is yours, my friends.  Make it well.

Yours, in service,

Benjamin J. Kirby

Go Fitz Family
Keith, Bridgit, Conor, and Angela

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About Benjamin Kirby

Benjamin J. Kirby has worked in Democratic politics, federal and local government, and issue advocacy for nearly twenty years. Currently he is the Communications Manager for a special taxing authority in Pinellas County, Florida which provides critical services to at-risk youth and underprivileged families. He has served in the non-profit sector, working for a healthcare education organization seeking to serve kidney patients and their families. He was also the Communications Director for the Parkinson’s Action Network (PAN), an education and advocacy group dedicated to finding better treatments and a cure for Parkinson’s disease. Before healthcare education and advocacy, he served in staff and volunteer capacities in political campaigns, most recently volunteering for the successful Keith Fitzgerald for State House (69th District, Florida) campaign in 2006, and his subsequent 2008 and 2010 campaigns. He advised Greg Galligan for State Senate (39th District, Virginia) in 2003 and conducted research for the successful Mark Sickles for Delegate (43rd District, Virginia) campaign, also in 2003. In 2002, he served as Field Director for Arkansas' first female gubernatorial nominee, Jimmie Lou Fisher, and as Campaign Manager for Jan Schneider’s first bid against Katherine Harris for the U.S. House of Representatives in Florida’s 13th Congressional District. His first campaign was with the Clinton/Gore Presidential Campaign of 1992 in his hometown of Little Rock, Arkansas. During the Clinton Administration, Benjamin served as the first Public Affairs Officer of the United States Parole Commission within the U.S. Department of Justice, where he developed the Commission’s first website. In 1998, he developed a website for the First Lady’s White House Millennium Council. He worked for more than five years serving two Drug Czars as an Administrative Assistant and Scheduler in the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. He also held a variety of research and administrative positions at the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Office of Presidential Personnel. Benjamin is seeking publication for his first novel, a love story set against the backdrop of the violent criminal underworld. In addition, he will soon be finishing several humorous essays reflecting on his service in the Clinton Administration. He is also the editor and publisher of The Spencerian, a political blog (http://warnerkirby.blogs.com). His fiction has been published in WordWrights! Magazine, and Apathy, a literary magazine. Born in western North Carolina and raised in Little Rock, Arkansas, Benjamin now lives in Gulfport, Florida with his wife and daughter. While working for the Clinton Administration, Benjamin went to school in the evening, and received an undergraduate degree in Political Communication from George Mason University.
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