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Thursday, July 22, 2010

Tea Party Forum Is “Seasoned” By Conservatism

It was conservatism times six at the Agriculture Center Monday night as four Republican and two right-leaning Independent congressional hopefuls debated and talked to hundreds of Jackson County Tea Party members and fans.

Moderator Jerry Dorchuck kept the proceedings orderly, asking each candidate prepared questions only and limiting responses to two minutes, but he couldn’t stop Dianne Berryhill and Eddie Hendry from arguing over the war in Afghanistan. Military man Hendry said the war is “winnable,” we just have to fight harder and longer. Berryhill said her son is fighting in that war that’s “un-winnable” as it is being waged. WTYS-FM Marianna broadcast the event live and Chipola College TV’s Royce Reagan taped it for future broadcast.

Republican David Scholl won the straw ballot conducted after the debate. Of the approximately 300 persons who attended, 141 turned in ballots. The results, in percentages, are as follows: Scholl—45.6%, Steve Southerland—23.2%, Ron McNeil—10.8 percent, Paul McKain—8.6%, Eddie Hendry—7.2% and Dianne Berryhill—4.3%.

Berryhill and McKain are the Independents. Republican candidate Barbara Olschner missed the event due to illness. They are all trying to unseat 14-year incumbent Democrat Allen Boyd, who is facing Democrat Al Lawson in the Aug. 24 Primary.

Tea Party organizer Sybil Andreasen shared her opinions with the TIMES as to why Scholl took the crowd. “I think he’s very informed on the issues and he spoke to them Monday night, very forcefully and confidently,” she said. “He’s not with the elites or special interests. He knows the constitution and is pro-life. His integrity and boldness came out.”

Boldness will help whoever gets the chance to oppose Boyd, especially in Jackson County. As McKain pointed out Monday, the last Republican to take the 16 counties of District 2 did so in 1885, during Reconstruction. In the 2008 District 2 race in Jackson County, Mark Mulligan beat Eddie Hendry 1,527 to 543 in the Republican Primary. There were no third party candidates. Mulligan then lost to Boyd in the general election by almost 7,000 votes. The final count was Boyd—13,869 and Mulligan 7,019. Only in the presidential race does Jackson County traditionally go Republican. That goes back to the Nixon era.

Scholl was Reaganesque Monday night, exuding the former president’s optimism and love of country. “There is a resurgence of conservatism in America right now,” he said. “People are tired of President Obama—House Speaker Nancy Pelosi—Senate President Harry Reid being the top three problems in the country. Our best days are ahead of us. We can make America’s future bright again. America loves to work.”

Scholl received loud applause from the crown when he said he would push for the “Fair Tax” that would “make America the tax haven of the world. Manufacturing could return to Jackson County just like in the old days.” He continued, “I hate all taxes. On the books, there are nine tax increases coming down the pike. Ideally, we need the Fair Tax. It abolishes the IRS and you can keep 100 percent of your paycheck.” He said if he couldn’t get the Fair Tax, he’d push for the Flat Tax or “Reagan-style tax cuts.”

All of the candidates stressed the need for reducing the size and roles of government, tax reforms, and adhering to constitutional principles. Eddie Hendry stated he would push for a balanced budget amendment, while Steve Southerland stressed the need for restoring Christian principles to government and within our society.

It was a well organized, properly conducted forum which afforded the audience a great opportunity to meet and evaluate almost all of the candidates who are competing for U.S. Representative from our District. If you were unable to attend, hopefully you will see it on CCTV Channel 4.

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