Today we're going to talk about which of your congressional reps are the most liberal and conservative — and hear what you guys had to say about driving on the beach in Daytona.
But first, a prediction: Marco Rubio has peaked.
The best thing our dimpled dynamo had going for his bid to become Florida's next U.S. senator was that nobody knew anything about him.
That allowed him to become the latest darling of the Tea Party devotees, who were so desperate for a messiah that they were willing to believe every one of Rubio's claptrap claims about being a fiscally conservative outsider.
Unfortunately for him, Rubio is running headfirst into his own track record.
Story after story keeps revealing the former House speaker as one of politics' more lavish spenders.
There were reports of renovations of a private dining room for him and his legislative buddies, $100,000 worth of charges to the GOP credit card, pricey hotel stays, plane trips, reports of a $1,800 limousine bill, repairs to his family car, a $134 barbershop bill … the list goes on.
Some of it tax money. Some of it from special interests. Very little of it his own.
Meanwhile, Marco continues to preach his gospel of fiscal conservatism, telling everyone else they should suck it up.
He's the Tea Party's Wizard of Oz — only Toto hasn't pulled the curtains all the way back yet.
True fiscal conservatives, after all, can't like the hypocrisy any more than anyone else.
Rubio may well still beat back the befuddled Charlie Crist. But his meteoric rise, and 32-point leads, will start shrinking under the bright lights of reality.
How far right — and left?
So which party is full of extremists when it comes to our local congressional delegation?
The answer: Neither.
So says the National Journal, which recently tracked key votes from 2009 and then ranked every single member of the U.S. House, based on the vote's political leaning.
Locally, the Republican with the most-conservative voting record was John Mica (58th out of 177 House Republicans nationwide). Most-liberal honors went to Corrine Brown (86th out of 253 Dems).
What may disappoint some of the Republicans trying to boot out Alan Grayson and Suzanne Kosmas is that the nonpartisan Journal determined those two actually had some of the more-conservative voting records among Democrats. In fact, the publication called both "centrists," with Grayson ranking 170th and Kosmas way down at 216th.
Conversely, Republican Ginny Brown-Waite ranked as one of the more-moderate Republicans (151st).
Now, things like voting records probably won't get in the way of those who treasure opinions more than facts. And, admittedly, voting records may not tell the whole story when it comes to competence or temperament. But this is a good snapshot from a respected publication that looks at more than just the headline-making issues.
If you want to see the full study — and hear what some of our local reps had to say about it — you can find it at OrlandoSentinel.com/takingnames.
The beach-driving debate
Whoo boy, did I hear from a lot of you regarding Tuesday's column about driving on Daytona Beach.
Reaction was strong and mixed — though slightly more readers thought this outdated and unsafe tradition had run its course.
Many locals, such as Elean S. of Ormond Beach, said she and her husband gave up their walks on beaches that allow cars after too many "near misses" — even when walking in the shallow surf. "It's just not worth it," Elean said. "It can't be both a playground and a highway. It's one or the other."
Others, like Chris S. described the beach-driving tradition as crucial to the coastal community with few other parking options, arguing that anyone who wanted to stop it was "basically advocating no one going to Daytona Beach at all."
And a few seemed resigned about it all. Richard C. said beach driving should have ended long ago — but that nothing will ever change as long as Volusia County leaders view accidents, such as last weekend's death of 4-year-old Ellie Louise Bland, as merely "collateral damage" to their economy.
Certainly there are two sides. But one thing many beach-driving supporters tried to do was claim that this debate is new and reactionary. That's just plain wrong.
People have objected to the practice for decades — for the safety of humans and wildlife, as well as for environmental and aesthetic reasons. In fact, the state flat-out banned it in most places 25 years ago.
What's more, the Sentinel's editorial board called for the practice to end seven years ago — before little Ellie was even born.
Consider this board's prophetic words from 2003:
"Between 1998 and 2003, there were 43 accidents involving vehicles and people on the beach, according to county statistics. Fortunately, no one has been killed since 1996 … Yet it seems almost inevitable that tragedy will occur at the beach some day …"
Scott Maxwell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 407-420-6141.Copyright © 2015, CT Now