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The many titles and faces of Gallagher

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© St. Petersburg Times, published June 16, 2000

Tom Gallagher lay in bed just before dawn, contemplating the thought of not holding public office with the same dread that most of us reserve for the icy hand of Death itself. Suddenly the inspiration struck him: To cover all his bases, he must run for every single political office at once.

"Of course, that's the answer!" Gallagher shouted, bolting straight upright in his four-poster, designer bed. "Odds are I'll be elected to something."

The former state legislator, former insurance commissioner, former candidate for governor, current education commissioner, newly former candidate for the U.S. Senate, and, most recently, new candidate for insurance commissioner yet again, sprang to work.

Gallagher strode to his mirror, over which hung a large sign saying: "TODAY YOU ARE THE:," followed by a little rotating wheel which was turned to the phrase, "Education Commissioner." He regarded his reflection, musing, as he did every morning, Thank God no one will ever see my hair like this.

He put his plan into action that very day. The lawyers were stunned at his plan to run for every seat in the Cabinet and Legislature.

But despite diligent research, they could find no law or constitutional requirement that the candidates for all of these posts be different human beings. True, there was a residency requirement for some races, but Gallagher simply claimed his automobile as his official residence. "I can do everything in or on cars that people do in the privacy of their own homes," he said.

The Florida Supreme Court, fearing budget cuts from a future Legislature and Cabinet populated entirely by Gallaghers if he won anyway, dutifully ordered his name placed on all ballots.

The resulting campaign was a whirlwind. At each stop, he devoted one minute of his speech to each Cabinet post and then one each to the local House and Senate race.

In the education minute, he promised to be the "Dr. Zeus of schools, the Dr. Spackle of your children."

In the agriculture minute, he promised to be the "Johnny Applesauce" of husbandry.

In the secretary of state minute, he pledged to "do the best darned job of whatever it is the secretary of state does that has ever been done."

He also said at one rally, "I used to troll for carp all the time, so I am well-suited for that job as well."

The brunt of this combined strategy fell upon Gallagher's campaign accountants, who dutifully divided each dollar spent at each event into eighths, one portion for each Cabinet seat, and one each for the local House and Senate race. Campaign contributions were meticulously recorded; checks made out to "Whatever He Is Running For Today" were reluctantly refunded.

In one race, Gallagher was chagrined to learn that he had accidentally filed to run twice. This meant that he had to run against himself in the Republican primary, which he feared might be a waste of money and resources. In the end, he withdrew one of the candidacies, announcing that part of him "wanted to spend more time with my family," and endorsed the remaining candidate.

Gallagher won every race. Unfortunately, the instant he was sworn in, he was horrified to realize that term limits apply to a single person, not an office, and the cumulative time served in his multitude of posts came crushing down upon him all at once. Instantly he shriveled into a pile of dust and was scattered by the wind, leaving behind only his official portrait, a Dorian Gray sort of image of a grinning, well-coiffed fellow, captioned:



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