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Sheriff hopefuls acting like Democrats


© St. Petersburg Times, published June 20, 2000

Maybe opposites do attract and maybe, just maybe, that is why I find myself dating a Republican.

It's not as difficult as it may seem.

Democrat hired gun James Carville and his wife, former Bush aide and talk-show host Mary Matalin, are actually married, and have made a cottage industry out of their conflicts.

We agreed that I would not discuss drug legalization or gun control in front of her friends and she would not mention Jesse Helms in front of mine.

We also can't agree on the Pasco County Sheriff's race.

It's too much fun for me to give up.

Two Republican candidates there, when one of them can take enough time off from whining about his media coverage, have done everything except exchange blows in a campaign that would embarrass a high school junior running for prom prince.

Last time out, candidate Gil Thivener, who was an aide to former Sheriff John Short, publicly accused Jim Gillum of extortion, playing a cassette of messages he said was left on his answering machine by Gillum campaign adviser Bob Desmond.

In short (short, not Short), Thivener says Gillum threatened to "go public," with what were already published articles, most of which were also public record because of their involvement with court cases.

And Gillum, true to either his or Thivener's word, was at the same meeting of the Pasco County Republican Party where he and Thivener exchanged nasties with Thivener saying he carries a gun and was being intimidated by Gillum (politically, similar to hiding under your bed from the Teletubbies) and Gillum shouting "Take it to Bernie McCabe!" McCabe is the State Attorney for Pasco and Pinellas counties and would be the correct person to investigate extortion and intimidation.

I'm not sure though whether the issue of political cowflop comes under McCabe's jurisdiction.

Among other hilarious antics in this falling out between members of the dysfunctional Grumpy Old Pols party, is Gillum saying he had to give the report because Lee Cannon, the Democrat incumbent, is sure to do something worse.

My man Jim just doesn't get it.

Cannon doesn't have to do anything, so far, except sit back, chuckle and let the Republicans' fingers do all the walking through the pages of yellow campaigning.

It is equally instructive that the Republicans, torn by other internecine squabbles that resulted in the ouster of three top officers and after having just made speeches about unity and cooperation, tried to close the meeting in mid-mud-throw to get persons who were not voting members of the Republican Executive Committee (i.e. reporters) ousted.

Guess they thought the Gil and Gillum show should be rated R for Ridiculous.

Turned out their move toward unity didn't provide enough votes to do so.

(That sort of reminded me of a time in the 1970s when the Pasco County Commission considered whether to write a letter to the Times saying I was inaccurately referring to a plethora of 3-2 votes along geographical lines. The motion failed 3-2.)

I am only nominally Democrat (there is no Anarchy Party) but nonetheless sick of having my nose rubbed in the matter of Paula, Monica, Hillary and Bill for the past two years and and I am really tired of being asked why Tipper is still alive if she and Al were the prototypes for Love Story. So how can I resist letting the locals help me get even.

In the end I will let Ted Kennedy, glass in hand, make the final call. He once noted during a convention that Democrats are like cats. When you hear them yowling and squealing the loudest . . . they are actually making love.

Sounds like Pasco's Republicans are just in for their own little Summer of Love.

Or, as I will opine to my date in a couple of hours, they're acting like a bunch of damn Democrats.

It will probably be a long night.

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