PerspectivesRob Bradley Jacksonville Today Contributor
Photo: Bill Bortzfield, WJCT

OPINION | For candidates, public scrutiny is part of the process

Published on August 3, 2022 at 9:32 pm
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The primary season in Florida politics is always brutal.

Because primaries involve battles between members of the same political party, or a nonpartisan race, there usually aren’t many policy differences among the choices. Therefore, candidates seek to differentiate themselves in other ways, often pointing to the alleged personal failings of their opponent. It can get ugly.

Add in the fact that primaries take place in the middle of a scorching Florida summer, and you often create an overall unpleasant experience for all involved.

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It’s incredibly difficult to run for office, whether one is trying to be governor or join the local school board.

First of all, it’s expensive to run a campaign. No one likes to ask someone for money. But if you are trying to reach more than a few hundred voters, you simply can’t win an election without it. First-time candidates are often surprised at the amount of time and energy required to fundraise. But it’s a necessity if a candidate wants to win, and it can be a grind.

Second, candidates have to ask their family and friends for help. It takes a lot of time to build and put up signs, secure sign locations, wave signs and walk neighborhoods. One candidate cannot do it all alone. So it inevitably requires a significant investment of time from many important people in a  candidate’s life. And it’s one of those favors that take a lifetime to repay.

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Remember the dread you felt when your sister or nephew asked you to help them move their furniture across town to a new apartment? Now imagine doing that for several weekends and a few weekdays during a Florida summer. That’s the life of a candidate’s core group of supporters.

And it’s all for the privilege of being poked, prodded and being made to run naked through the public square, criticized and even ridiculed for things you have said or done or not said or done.

So as we head into the final stretch of the 2022 primary season, let’s take a moment to say thanks to all of the candidates.

It takes guts and a thick skin. My hope is that you all will derive a true sense of pride and satisfaction from the process, regardless of the outcome.

And the bottom line is that we wouldn’t have a representative democracy without you.

Thank you.

author image Jacksonville Today Contributor Rob Bradley is an attorney and current chairman of the governing board of the St. Johns River Water Management District. Rob is managing partner of Bradley, Garrison & Komando, P.A., an Orange Park law firm. He represented the north Florida region in the Florida Senate from 2012-2020, serving as Chairman of the Senate Committee on Appropriations from 2017-2020, where he crafted three state budgets, each in excess of $90 billion.

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