Ron DeSantis gerrymanders Polk into a county vs. Lakeland; Big Capital vs. Capitol Lynch Mob GOP civil war
Will Steve Maxwell, Jimmy Nelson, or Hannah Book Bannah just hand the new Polk district to Scott Franklin and Lakeland First. Who will Matt Gaetz, J.D. Alexander, and Grady Judd back?
Scott Franklin and the “Lakeland First” PAC wanted to seize a Congressional seat for Lakeland and themselves so badly in 2020 that they did this — the most morally and socially embarrassing thing ever done to win a primary in Polk County.
Anyway, Scott Franklin’s “Wingman” Congressional PAC was basically a “Lakeland First” PAC. Some background here on who Lakeland First is and what they did to help Scott beat the ethically challenged Hillsborough congressman Ross Spano in the 2020 GOP primary. You’ll find lots of Publix and local developer/ aristocracy money.
Lakeland First is Lakeland’s Big Capital community; and it raised almost $250K for Scott to snuggle up to Matt Gaetz, who is currently under investigation for underage sex trafficking [otherwise known as “grooming”] and other hijinks related to his other “wingman,” Joel Greenberg.
This is especially embarrassing because Scott Franklin presented himself as a serious and thoughtful person when Lakeland First successfully ran him as a Lakeland City Commission candidate. He impressed me. Was that the real Scott? I have no idea.
But it doesn’t matter. You are what you do and who you call your “wingman,” which is an exceptionally unfortunate thing to call Matt Gaetz, ever, for a variety of reasons.
Indeed, any reporter covering this race should ask Scott Franklin point black if he wants Matt Gaetz to be his “wingman” in this election cycle. Why or why not?
Yet all that Lakeland First effort and money and indignity only bought Scott two years of doing nothing in Congress (other than keeping black judge names off courthouses) and two years of Lakeland First bragging rights. LOL.
Now they have to do it all over again multiple times. Maybe.
The “Lakeland First” congressman chooses a Polk district
Lakeland’s empty shell state legislators recently cheered while Ron DeSantis dismembered Lakeland’s congressional representation into three parts. DeSantis crammed most of Lakeland’s black vote into a different District 15 flowing west into Hillsborough County. This helped DeSantis create more potentially GOP districts in Florida.
See the new districts below.
To my knowledge, the Lakeland Firsters went ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ about this dismemberment. To assert the same level of Congressional influence for Lakeland, they’ll now have to pull a Scott Franklin at least three times. Some of them have the cash to do it; but I don’t think Will Harrell does.
The dividing line of Scott Franklin’s new District 15 and the new District 18 literally runs down the middle of Lakeland along South Florida Avenue, the main north-south drag through the core of our city.
The new version of Scott Franklin’s current district is essentially 50-50 by party vote. Trump won it by a point in 2020. Just eye-balling it, I’d say 18 and 15 split Lakeland city population evenly; but the high growth areas of southwest Lakeland are in 15.
Yet Scott has announced he’s running in the new District 18, which is now 60-40 GOP safe seat dominated by non-Lakeland Polk County.
In fairness, I think Scott lives in 18, like I do, very very close to the dividing line. But you don’t have to live in the district you represent. And geographically, District 15 is much more compact around Lakeland — and much less white — than 18.
If Hannah Book Bannah and CCDF aren’t a joke, they’ll try to take District 18 from Lakeland First and Scott Franklin
Scott Franklin’s new GOP district offers the so-called County Citizens Defending Freedom (CCDF) a chance to demonstrate actual power.
It’s easy to to rage about anuses and bladders, worship coup plotters and admire Putin from afar, ban books, threaten sweet librarians with arrest, and thrash about in anti-social disruption spectacles.
But that’s not real power. That’s a teenager trashing their parents’ house in impotent rage.
It’s even easy to win a small town election in Lake Wales because the charter school system has so split the community that a CCDFer can win with just 42 percent of the vote in a racially-polarized three-way race. By contrast, you saw what happened when CCDFers came after actual power in Lakeland with Saga Stevin. They got destroyed in a 1-on-1 mayor’s race by the Lakeland First Mayor Bill Mutz.
And guess what: the Polk School District is already putting the banned books back in its libraries and there’s a joyful civic dance floor in the middle of Lakeland where the Johnny Reb statue once glowered. Now he stands moldering, unvisited and unseen, in a memorial garden because no one ever actually cared about “honoring history” with Johnny Reb, especially the CCDFers.
CCDF and similar folks have lost every culture war battle they’ve tried to fight. Badly. Because they don’t have any real power. They’re silly and weak.
But a Republican primary in a 60-40 GOP seat held by a Big Capital Lakeland establishment guy, hailing from the very very tippy-top northwest edge of the district, with a record of sucking up to under-grooming-investigation Matt Gaetz, is the best ground the CCDF’s Jimmy Nelson or Steve Maxwell will ever have to challenge the GOP establishment in this county and take power.
It’s a home game for them. This is Saga versus Mutz again; but this time only Republicans can vote.
Much of political/institutional/business Polk resents Lakeland’s influence anyway. Will the CCDF act on that?
Or are they big-talking chickens who just want to bully trans kids and scream about “groomers” that don’t exist while ignoring those that do.
Watch Grady Judd, J.D. Alexander, and Matt Gaetz
Will we get this long-brewing Polk GOP civil war? Who will take which side?
I see three crucial names to watch for the answers to those question — Grady Judd, J.D. Alexander, and Matt Gaetz.
Grady Judd, Polk’s famously trash-talking sheriff, strongly endorsed Scott Franklin and attacked Ross Spano over his ethics violations back in 2020, while Judd himself was impotently overseeing a 70 percent spike in Polk County’s murder rate. He should have paid more attention to his actual job.
Grady Judd could probably shut down any primary if he acts now. But does Sheriff 70 Percent really want to give another full-throated endorsement to guy who calls Matt Gaetz, currently under “groomer” investigation, his “wingman”?
Everybody better hope Gaetz doesn’t get charged and perp-walked between now and Election Day.
Also, while Grady knows that his bread is buttered by Big Capital, he is terrified of offending Capitol Lynch Mob supporters. They’re his core social and political base. I’ve addressed this quite a bit. It’s as embarrassing and perhaps even uglier than Scott Franklin’s Gaetz wingman love. During the Lakeland mayor’s race, Capitol Lynch Mob supporter Saga Stevin just took Grady’s endorsement from him as if he suffered from Tucker Carlson’s low testosterone problem.
Again, my best guess is that Grady tries to clear the field for Scott. But that’s just a guess. And if CCDFers let him clear the field, they’ll be bending the knee to Grady and Scott and Lakeland First for a decade at least. Maybe they’re comfortable with subservience.
J.D. Alexander is the southeast Polk version of Lakeland First. He’s a Ben Hill Griffin heir. [Basically all Big Capital is inherited capital.] I’m very curious about where he puts his capital in the race — if he does at all.
Much of CCDF power, such as it is, seems to sit in the Lake Wales area. If Jimmy Nelson or Steve Maxwell or anybody else from down that way jumps in … what does J.D. do? What do the Storys [a similar southeast Polk capital family] do?
None of this, by the way, is helpful for long-term efforts to end east versus west tensions in Polk County. None of this helps the public good. But it does help Ron DeSantis; and no one mentioned in this article has the courage to challenge that fact in any way.
The well-being of constituents is a far secondary consideration to DeSantis’ well-being, if it’s considered at all. So we should evaluate what’s real — not what ought to be if better people represented us.
I’ll be protecting the people of Polk County schools as best I can from the inevitable attacks
I took a strong public position, when Lakeland First and Grady Judd wouldn’t, in support of Lakeland First’s Bill Mutz. I carpet-bombed Saga Stevin with attention that was not helpful for her.
I did that because Bill is a man of character and decency, who has governed in a unifying and expansive way. He’s man who doesn’t go looking for enemies or vulnerable people to exploit.
There is no option like Bill Mutz to pick in a Franklin v. CCDF GOP primary, so I will not be taking a side. My hope is that Big Capital rights itself and re-orients itself and Scott toward inclusive public good. I could take that side in that case; but that’s way wishful thinking. And the Republican base would vote against Scott anyway if he did. Hating the libs is all that matters.
Unfortunately, whether CCDF challenges Lakeland First or cuts a deal for subservience to them, all the incentives of both scenarios point to a raft of public education and teacher bashing.
Thus, I will pay more attention to this dreary and ugly race than I would normally — for that reason.
People in power lie casually and viciously about people in public schools every day. I will try to protect them from that — whether it comes from the Congressional “wingman” of a dude under investigation for underage sex trafficking or from the book-banning anus people.
It all makes me proud to be an American.