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.
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