St Lucie Democratic Party Chair, Celeste Bush, Shuts Out Local Candidates
In last Sunday’s paper, columnist Anthony Westbury took the local Democratic Party to task for not allowing a Democrat to have his petitions signed at the St Lucie County Fair. Sal Anicito is looking to mount a primary challenge to incumbent Chris Dzadovsky in one of three races for County Commissioner. Mr. Anicito’s participation in the election is not welcomed by Celeste Bush, Chairwoman of the Democratic Party of St Lucie. To paraphrase Ms. Bush, ‘Many who are running are unknown to me or the party insiders, and we only give time to those we think can win.’ You can translate that to “I get to decide who gets their petitions signed at the fair and who gets to talk to the public.”
For those of you unaware of how the ballot process works, here is a little inside baseball. To get your name on the ballot, you have to get a certain number of petitions signed by a certain date. In the county commission race, that number is 1,823. Otherwise, you must pay a fee to get on the ballot, in this case, $4,536. These numbers are based upon the number of registered voters and a percentage of the salary of the office sought.
The St Lucie County Fair is the prime place to have your petitions signed. So much so, that if you miss the fair by not registering to run in time, you have an uphill battle getting enough signatures. A signature can be from any registered voter that lives in the county for county races; the city for city races; or congressional district for congressional races. Party designation of the voter does not matter. Signing a ballot petition is not a pledge of support.
’disgraceful’ for an official party organization to attack a Democratic candidate and to be working so obviously in league with a potential rival. – Celeste Bush in April 2015, before doing the same thing in February 2016
What is interesting is that in April 2015, the Palm Beach Post reported that Ms. Bush wanted to strip Nancy Jacobson, a leader of the Democratic Progressive Caucus, of her status as a Democratic National Committee representative. The reason? Ms. Jacobson and her caucus were working against Congressman Patrick Murphy in his Senate bid. The article reports that an email sent by Ms. Bush said that it was, “’disgraceful’ for an official party organization to attack a Democratic candidate and to be working so obviously in league with a potential rival.” News flash to Celeste: denying entry to one person while allowing entry to another is working in league with one rival against the other. I guess it is only disgraceful when those having objections raise them against the candidate you support. Maybe Mr. Anicito would like to discuss with his fellow Democrats the failure of the county commission to bring quality jobs to the county; a commission which has been under the control of his Party for years. We may never know. We may never hear Dzadovsky’s response to such a question, a question Democratic County Chair Celeste Bush probably doesn’t want anyone to ask, nor put County Commission Democrats on the spot to have to answer.
Westbury’s grade is Incomplete at best.
Westbury did an excellent job telling this story, up to a point. Whether by design or accidental omission, Westbury failed to discuss how things work on the other side of the local aisle and went directly to the national GOP and the media’s infatuation with a possible contested convention: “..it seems both parties exclude those they don’t like.” For Westbury’s information, the Republican Party also has a booth at the fair each year. ALL Republican candidates can have their petitions signed at the booth and sign up for time slots to be at the booth to speak with the public. Volunteers staff the booth and assist all the candidates in having the petitions signed.
Republican Party is the one with the Open Tent policy.
To his credit, Bill Paterson, Chairman of the Republican Party of St Lucie, and his staff of volunteers do an excellent job each year with the fair. Schedules are set up and time slots are equitably allocated to candidates. The Republican Party and certainly Bill Paterson never tells anyone, ‘You cannot win so don’t bother showing up.’ So for all the talk about big tents, it would seem that the Republican Party of St Lucie County maintains an open door policy. The Democratic Party has a box; you are either in or out, and only a handful gets to decide where you stand. Apparently, the rank and file in the Democratic Party cannot be entrusted with such things as free elections.