Democrats Celebrate 2012; Motivate for the Future

Senator Bill Nelson speaks to local Democrats at the annual Low Country Boil

Submitted by Karen Thompson

Features Reporter

It was a full house Saturday night at the 15th Annual Low Country Boil fundraiser hosted by the Nassau County Democratic Executive Committee.   Nassau County Democrats and a few guests from Duval County celebrated 2012 accomplishments and rallied at the Fernandina Beach Golf Club for national and state elections ahead .

Keynote speaker, U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, recently returned from a mission trip to Haiti.  Senator Nelson was joined by wife Grace, son Bill Jr. and his 93-year-old mother-in-law.   He urged the crowd of more than 150 to “stand up to the ideological idiocy in Washington” and predicted that the Republican Party “has become so extreme that the American public finally sees them for what they really are.”  He likened elections to driving a car….to move forward you put it in D for drive, to go backward you shift into R for reverse to go backward. 

On the serious side Sen. Nelson outlined the billions of dollars Florida has lost because of the tea party mentality in Tallahassee for projects ranging from high speed rail to healthcare to the environment.  He called it “pitiful” that Florida Republicans voted down $51 billion in federal Affordable Care Act funding for Medicaid expansion and insurance exchanges, leaving 1.2 million Floridians without health care, driving up insurance costs for everybody else and filling emergency rooms.  He lamented the fact that other states will benefit because” Florida is heading in the wrong direction on Obamacare for purely ideological reasons.” 

And speaking of the health care law, club member Joe Winston gave a testimonial to one part of the Affordable Care Act that literally saved his life.  Winston celebrated the anniversary of a kidney transplant recently.  He expressed his gratitude for the removal of the cap on insurance company payouts, made possible by the passage of Obamacare, a term he uses proudly when talking about the law and his health journey.  He reached his insurance cap even before he had the transplant.

Candidate for Governor Nan Rich, the first woman to head the state Democratic caucus while in the Florida senate has found, in her 200 campaign events over the past year that people in the state are ready for progressive leadership based on fairness and putting people first.  Her campaign to be the first woman governor of Florida focuses on jobs, civil rights (including the right to vote and barriers to women), quality education and health care for all Florida citizens.  She challenged Governor Rick Scott to focus less on non-existent voter fraud and more on Medicare fraud “a subject that he should know a lot about.”

“Tallahassee, we have a problem,” said State Senator Audrey Gibson in reference to Sen. Nelson’s astronaut past.  “The State of Florida mirrors Washington D.C. in its inability to move forward.”  She urged democrats to stop talking to each other and to talk out of our circle to let friends and neighbors know that the governor gave only “lip service” to approving the Affordable Care Act for Florida and that President Obama’s national agenda, not Rick Scott, is responsible for the economic and housing turnaround in Florida although the governor is always eager to take credit.

Although the political topics were predictable, in the end, the democrats in Florida and particularly in Nassau County have a lot more groundwork to do….the challenge lives long after the re-election of President Obama in 2012.  Were those “Florida for Hillary” bumper stickers floating around the dining room?

Editor’s Note:  We welcome Karen Thompson, our newest volunteer reporter for the Fernandina Observer.  Karen moved to Fernandina Beach two years ago after working in Chicago as a senior public relations specialist for the Midwestern regional office of the  U. S. Environmental Protection Agency.  Prior to that, she was an editor,  columnist and writer  for a chain of Chicago newspapers ,  an account executive for several Chicago public relations agencies and proprietor of her own pr/marketing business.  She grew up and earned her journalism degree in Wisconsin.

August 13, 2013 7:21 a.m.