Michael Dobson newspaper

By Michael Dobson



As I ponder our nation’s future on this January 19, the eve of the inauguration, it was just a few weeks ago,  we all mockingly and excitedly celebrated the New Year … all of us with our versions of how awful 2020 was… naively expected 2020 to flicker away at midnight as if turning off a light. That was until we all in utter disbelief witnessed January 6, 2021.


Biden talks to a homeless man outside of Georgetown AMC

The last 10 months has been difficult to write about, not to mention the last four years. There is no poetic or lyrical waxing one can employ to describe it. We have all seen death either touching us directly  or nearby. Relationships (romantic and otherwise) have fractured, sometimes splitting families,  as the daily fear we find ourselves gripped with… has in some ways outwardly and subconsciously taken their toll… affecting us in ways many don’t recognize or understand. For many years, psychologist will try to understand the lasting psychological impact of covid 19,  as the number of  Americans who live in a state of clinical depression are at record levels. Then there is the increased drug use, liquor sales, subsequent alcoholism, and other abuses.. domestic and otherwise resulting from covid 19.  Being forever the  optimist and perhaps a bit pollyannaish, I thought that the evil of Covid 19 would produce unity … as the virus  brings everyone to the same place no matter wealth, poverty or station in life. I was wrong.  Instead, the isolation, fear, death and anxiety, increased alcohol and drug use … proved fertile grounds for those eager to widen division and feed radical ideas for personal gain.

Everything feels disjointed and out of place, as two days before a historic inauguration we celebrate Dr King as we have done before, but doing so 82 years after his January 15, 1939 birth , 52 years after his death and 14 days after a mob overtook our nation’s capital seeking a  race war. Musician and songwriter David Burns asks the right question when he ask.. well, how did I get here… watching the days go by. For many of us, January which rolls into February Black History month, is a time overshadowed by Dr Kings legacy… one of peace and unity. America digesting and adhering to that legacy is more important this year than ever before, because rather than being that Shiny City on a Hill… our President leaves behind him a burning Sodom and Gomorrah.

Our outgoing president exploited racial division as a political tool. Being black in America, there is no rest. I’ve been black for over 6 decades in America. Leaders who are also statesmen have been integral to racial healing in America whenever that ugliness just underneath the surface raises its head. That statesman never showed up in our white house.  I’ve known from my youth that my blackness demands a reaction either outwardly expressed or of subconscious note ( felt)  by those we come in contact with. Everyone’s not a racist and everything is not about race, but racists and racism exist.  In this black writer’s life, there have been occasional signs of racial progress… baby steps toward the equality absent of discrimination that Dr King died for. However, the structural and systemic nature of our oppression sustains it as a part of America’s fabric. The agitation of race and its dialogue, not unlike that of a washing machines agitator…   has often allowed us to make progress toward cleaning ourselves of that stain,  if only momentarily… to take a  deeper look for better  understanding. That is when we move forward together positively… in small measure. In those instances, we have incrementally moved beyond hate, but never completely eliminating its undercurrent… which maintains a deep reservoir in America as a country that has not ever addressed its original sin of slavery, theft of human labor and theft of land… not to mention the rapes and murder perpetrated by our nation’s founders. We’ve come a long way, but still have far to go.

Today, the world has seen the downward spiral of our great nation, as it saw a white mob of domestic terrorist organized and provoked by our President … storm our nation’s capital.. trample upon and trespassed within the buildings and offices themselves, destroying and brazenly stealing property for the world to see … while seeking to hang the Vice President of the United States and harm others… to then promise a race war. That is what the world saw.  It also showed the tinderbox we live in and how easily we can lose our democracy... especially if we have an immoral leader who wants to be king.The only way to lessen the significance is the thought that perhaps this was not the revolution, because it was televised… much of it.

Yes, it is a striking time indeed. Before 2017, we had 8 years of a truly African American President with a mother born in Kansas and a father born in Kenya. And while our nation is on the verge of having its first female and woman of color Vice President, the ugly and the racist has diminished that celebration. I’d planned to attend.  Those who don’t like what America has always said it would be ….. a melting pot that welcomes all… and allow all to prosper,  have looked into the future and realized that America will have them in the racial minority by 2040, and has reacted  to that fact. It is in reflex of a notion dispelled by history, by any anthropologist, or science itself… that is the idea that one race is superior to the other… and is entitled to have the trappings of superiority; and that absent it, the “others” have taken what belongs to them… the superior. The idea of racial superiority is perhaps human kind’s largest lie. That is the misguided belief… not based on any aspect of humanity, truth, fact or science….in search of someone in power to validate it. They found that person in our outgoing president… a provocateur of violence and discord spurred on by lies.

Let’s  be clear about whose leaving. On January 20, 2021 America has an outgoing President whose campaign kickoff in 2015 was a  hateful diatribe  whereby he promised as a key agenda item…the getting rid of Mexicans… saying  they are murderers, rapist and thieves… telegraphing a view on immigration shared by white nationalist. He was not alone, as David Duke and various white nationalist organizations had been waiting for someone like him.  David Duke and the  KKK’s support is well known. During the 2016 election, every major newspaper in America endorsed Hilary Clinton, with no major newspaper endorsing Trump except for one… “The Crusader”,  which is the KKK’s most prominent publication. In the latter endorsement by the Crusader, one of the reasons it said it was doing so was because  “America became great because it is a White and Christian republic”.  Our outgoing president had already told us what he thought of blacks. He did that with his birther movement… putting him on the radar screen with the white nationalist. Many Americans voted for him, therefore, this is who a large minority of us are.

But as a nation, we rise out of the rubble, to collectively continue moving forward …celebrating MLK birthday and holiday when only recently armed racist over took our nation’s capital  for the purpose of killing federal leaders, and starting a race war or another civil war… then said our president sent them. Equally disturbing is that an alarming number of members of congress are willing to back the same domestic terrorist and to even use their support of the group as a means to fundraise.  It’s all surreal and something you thought only existed in third world countries. But yes… this is now America. This is us.  I ask, are we Rome burning in real time or surreal time as elected officials sell their souls while discarding the peace and tranquility of the nation… solely to win over a very devoted base of voters who exist in an alternative universe of conspiracies and untruths purposefully fed to them by the President himself and others  …  as carnival barkers and propagandist. What they knew is what was described by columnist Charles Blow in his column “ The Lowest White Man”…. that there is and always will be a group of whites who view minority progress, growth  and access as a threat to their perceived superiority… as a thing that shouldn’t be.

Our nation sigh in relief for our  46th President.  Joe Biden is the right man for this moment in history. God and the universe is always there and in the end, our friend. Mr Biden is a man who knows what it is to be selfish and overly ambitious as a part of his growth. He’s learned from it with the help of his Catholic faith. He is a president who understands the political process, inner workings of congress and our world…. with longstanding relationships with leaders across all lines. He has served as a congressman, U.S .Senator ( leading the most substantive of committees), and Vice President of the United States where he was  often dispatched as Americas representative with our foreign leaders.  He has been forever humbled first by losing a wife and daughter, killed by a drunk driver shortly before taking his seat in congress as a freshman. He has been a single father and a grieving husband… relying on siblings as his support system during a difficult time. He has lost a young son with a bright future to cancer… a son that the world could see he loved deeply. He watched and helped as a father can with a son struggling with substance abuse… to never walk away from his son… even when politics sought to make a disease many families struggle with a political liability. To the latter, when crass politics made that turn, he expressed his undying love for his son and the need for privacy he extends to competitors specific to family members as a matter of humanity. He … being a white man from a certain generation and culture served with the nation’s first American America president, a man 16 years his junior. They  were also men of different styles who saw each other as the others mentor… developing a deep friendship, where Joe Biden got to see a different America through the eyes of a black man… a black family… a black world far removed from the white suburbs of his upbringing. Joe Biden’s humility born out of catastrophic incidents of his life mentioned above, including near death from brain surgery, has provided (as if directed by God) this man with great humility, with the skillset and temperament needed to heal this nation. He will start his presidency with a theme of “Unity”.. .. a word and goal missing in America for 4 years.  The goal of unity in America is one I share while acknowledging how illusive it can be. Yes indeed. Joe Biden is the right man. He enters the presidency with a global pandemic ravaging our nation, an economy cratering, violent unrest to name a few. He also enters a nation in which the U.S, House of Representatives has impeached the President for the 2nd time, with the Senate taking up the same for its Senate trial… when the current Senate leader Mitch McConnell has taken to the senate floor to state that the Mob was Fed Lies and was provoked by the President… signaling his support for impeachment. I pray for unity, calm and safety as we seek to return to that place Ronald Reagan once described...as we finally can say it’s a New Year. It’s a New Year  as #45 removes his hate, division  and himself out of the house my enslaved ancestors built.  Don’t let the door hit you….


Michael Dobson is a third generation Floridian, longtime Tallahassee lobbyist, president/CEO of the Dream Foundation, Inc. and founder of Dobson, Craig and Associates. Reach him at Michael@dobsonandcraig.com. 

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Michael Dobson newspaper
by Michael Dobson


Our eyes locked. A much older man and I.

We were pumping gas on opposite sides of the Isle… me on pump 6 facing north and he on pump 5 facing south. Locking eyes neither of us nodded, but our locked eyes acknowledged our shared fear, angst, uncertainty and frustration, as we both now know and accept our mutual lot. A puzzle, the coronavirus is. It’s the taker of lives , the breaker of dreams, and the revealer of beauty all together. Because of it, we are sharing a resting place, a resting time.. a recognition of the things that we have in common in a crooked and often hard world that rather create and exploit divisions… turning to loving and understanding in its place, spurred by mutual angst and uncertainty . Like the waving of the flag after 9/11, there was a sense of unity… a togetherness that I see now. More death is eminent (with its pain) and our kindness is showing. The latter washed over me when locking eyes with a kindred soul. On the same day in that same sequence of activity, while entering the store to pay for my gas, a young black man opened the door for me as we both entered together…with him in front. The same man, while standing in front of me, dropped a nickel while receiving his change… to have me bend down to pick it up and give it to him. He was a kind man. Upon leaving, he wished the cashier and I a blessed day. Then, a very tall young tattooed white gentleman open the door for me as I was going out.

Later, there was the lady in Publix with whom I struck up small talk with about my amazement that lysol is nowhere to be found in town and the same for toilet tissue, when she volunteers that the store allows for the purchase of two packs of hand tissues and told me ( a stranger) that she’s using them as toilet paper. There is a beauty in the air from a sense of us being in the same boat .. being in it all together… easier to strike up conversations, to lock eyes away from our phones, to smile at the stranger or even shake your heads together at the strangeness of the moment.

This is not 9/11 when we had a sense of who our enemy was, at least we had a target to point to … to blame.. to punish; but here, there is no such enemy. Here, the enemy is benign.. as its nature itself and the science of the universe to also remind us that we share a common place… the world, as neighbors… as a part of the same humanity. Natures beauty and the beauty of our mutual humanity has brought us face to face with nature personified, as the broken and errant part of it, the ugly, the death…… a virus. There is a beauty here though even among the sadness we share with lost lives and lost dreams, for which we have grave condolences for the former, and a question of God’s will for the latter. The lessons of our shared sameness and broken down equality is a rich one here. It is when the wealthy have sought government money well before the poor… beating the poor to it.

Today, the rich and the poor together are seeking help from the government’s teat. One group, while considered titans of industry, have been brought down low.. to their knees. Today, the rich themselves go to the grocery stores to realize that no matter their wealth, they could not make toilet paper appear on their grocery store shelves… the same as the poor. Gas is cheaper than ever, but neither the rich nor the poor have anywhere they can go as movements are restricted together. We get to see the sameness in us when men of power have spent so many waking hours and hundreds of years to suggest there are innate advantages of intellect, skill, and morals itself. For the second group, it’s quality of life and the limits of their dreams are often determined by societies reaction to their race, ethnicity and gender, to now look into each other’s scared eyes to now know the truth… that our human equality has always been with us except for the lies we tell ourselves that are spurred by our all so human greed and fears.

For the wealthy. the usual trappings of said wealth for the purchasing of power, the purchases of escapism or perhaps the ability to surround oneself with aesthetics that we are told are the best representation of beauty…because of store closures , economies and travel restrictions perhaps are not attractive pursuits. We are forced to talk or be quiet with our spouse, our friends, our family… as we will learn quickly that escapism through television , movies and etc has its own shelf life. Maybe you will talk to your neighbor, watch a bird or a butterfly as you reacquaint yourself to your own surroundings outside as we embark upon spring. Maybe we will slow down, look up, and realize what love is again.. to know what being connected not to technology, but to people is like again. Yes, beautiful coronavirus… you may teach us.

I often go back to the young woman I saw picking up trash off of the side of the road a year ago, whom I stopped to snap pictures of, as she did it with her two kids…one in a stroller. For when I asked why she was doing it .. she said because it’s the least she can do. Today, I’m looking at my backyard, my street, the people around me as if they are new creatures. We’re accustomed to the hustle and bustle, the burying our faces in phones, in meetings, shopping online for unnecessary things .. seemingly all to avoid looking at ourselves squarely in the mirror to see our plainness and our sameness. Coronavirus has revealed our beauty, our sameness and forced us to look up, to look at each other and to know our togetherness… know that person who we’ve been told is the “other.”

There will be the other side of this moment in the world… the place where its over… the virus contained. We will not be the same… there is a shifting of who we are for the good. God and the universe are likely at play as hatred had become weighty in our everyday lives. We all could feel it. It began to weigh on our souls to even poison the generations behind us that are to sustain this planet when my bones are dry and buried. Nothing can replace the loved ones that will be lost from this scourge of a virus, no matter the uplifting words one can write.

We seek condolences for their families. In the end, we may find that rather than destroying civilization, coronavirus has saved it and all humanity itself as we can now see ugliness more clearly and show love for each other more often. Beautiful Deadly Coronavirus you got us, you’ve changed us.

Michael Dobson is a Tallahassee based third generation Floridian, columnist, President of Dobson, Craig and Associates, Founder of Talking Florida Politics. and President /CEO pf The Dream Foundation
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President Trump, Tell Gov Desantis To: Let My People Go (Vote)

Michael Dobson newspaper

By Michael Dobson

Thank you, President Donald Trump. When Kim Kardashian and her spouse appealed to you for the release of a federal prisoner and urged you to pursue criminal justice reform, you listened and acted. It signaled relief for generations disproportionately affected by what has become a predatory system. Then, there was the signing of the historic First Step Act, along with the high profile commuting of the sentence for one black woman… Alice Marie Johnson. Today, you are on track to sign a piece of legislation that is finally going to make lynching a federal hate crime.

But this show of a substantive reforming of criminal justice only goes so far… before the legitimacy of this new found love of my black brothers and sisters goes into question. This show of love has been gone with overstated rhetoric and propaganda by operatives and supporters that suggest the current administration has done more for blacks than any other President, especially Barack Obama. Then there is the famous statement from the 2016 campaign trail when the appeal to blacks was “ what the hell do you have to loose” in an effort to move blacks away from its nearly complete support of the Democratic party,to vote Republican. But also standard is the administrations contradictions, like the diatribe against Chicago leadership at the conference for international chiefs of police … intimating that cities status as a sanctuary city contributes to its crime rate, and the horrible remarks made about Baltimore and its leaders.

It is true that in this presidential election year our President will get to talk about the mostly symbolic things done to appeal to blacks, despite the often offensive rhetoric. But, the most glaring evidence of hypocrisy is that the administration has done nothing to make sure that African Americans can vote. Sir, why haven’t you Mr President called Gov Desantis and asked him to let ex-felons vote according to the Florida voter’s intent.On February 6th 2020, at a gathering,a minute or more is spent with you stating that Desantis victory in Florida is owed to your support….making it clear that the two of you are close and that Governor Desantis sits in our governor’s mansion largely because you got behind his campaign. If you love me… love my people, why won’t you let us vote? If you love me, why does your party keep challenging Amendment 4 in the courts, which is itself a form of voter suppression. Is it because in 2016 the President lost the popular vote by 3 million votes and only won Florida ( beating Hillary Clinton) by just 112,911 votes out of a total of 9,122,861 cast (not counting the 378,786 cast for the others on that presidential ballot), knowing that if the 1.4 million voters Amendment 4 intended to give the franchise to could actually vote, statewide elections would go differently. For instance, let’s just say that 10 percent of those now eligible under Amendment 4 could vote, that would be 140,000 additional votes to the Florida electorate. With that number of additional votes, Donald Trump would not have won Florida’s 29 electoral votes in 2016.And given that blacks are disproportionately incarcerated and therefore will be represented disproportionately in that number now eligible, had policymakers not stepped in to create the current barriers for voting under amendment 4, coupled with the generally held view that most blacks would vote Democratic, allowing us to vote unencumbered could determine who will be the leader of the free word (or at least win Florida’s 29 electoral votes) .

So, my humble question to our President is this: Are you suggesting to blacks that we should vote for you because of a handful of things you’ve done (mainly in criminal justice) that some see as a help to blacks, while at the same time… working to make sure many of us remain disenfranchised from voting? If so, we just might not buy into all of the administrations proclaimed love and support, and some who you have fooled might not vote for you at the percentages you would need? Is the GOP our friend or enemy? Which is it? Does the GOP want to expand its base beyond mostly whites, or keep it like it is? Because I’ll tell you my brothers in the GOP … what you will get with hate, has its cap. So, respectfully Mr. President, can you call on Governor Desantis to stop challenging Amendment 4 and "Let my people Go" ..Vote.

Michael Dobson is a third generation Floridian, longtime Tallahassee lobbyist, columnist, President CEO of The Dream Foundation( statewide organization that focuses solely on Dr Kings legacy), and Founder President of Dobson, Craig and Associates. Reach him at Michael@dobsonandcraig,com


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Michael Dobson newspaper

By Michael Dobson


Will the desire for power, the art of politics and strategically created division, supercede what it means to be the best of America?

What I heard on July 24, 2019 in the Mueller hearings is that there is  evidence which culminates  into all of the essential elements of obstruction of justice,  and that there was obvious complicity with a foreign government to put its thumb on our elections (and lying about it). With that, and because no one contested them,  I came away  knowing that those facts are real. Yes, remarkably, no one disputed the unthinkable by  an inhabitant of our highest office.

The things that the Mueller report points to really happened... even if we don't want to admit it. And, we should be concerned about them regardless of political parties or teams. The facts are simply the facts.

Furthermore,  it was said more than once by Mueller that a regular citizen would have been jailed had he/she engaged in the same activity. What is even more disappointing is that the GOP knew those facts were there, and are real... but to combat what is the plain truth as laid bare during the Mueller testimony...chose a strategy to divert their acolytes and the nation's attention rather than even try to defend the indefensible. It chose to talk about the Steel Dossier, which they knew Mueller could not get into, as a distraction... a loud one at that.

It is time for our political leaders to stop putting power and politics ahead of American values and America itself. We've not always been a country that would sit back and tacitly approve of  what this president has clearly done... which the GOP suggest when it did not even deny fact, as bad as they are ...acknowledge them, nor rightfully condemn them for their global and moral implications  as reflected upon a nation and its highest leader. I honestly don't know what is happening to our values. We have  so called evangelicals,supposed Christians... who props up a man that is in no way a Christian by his actions, his language, one with lacking demonstrable ethics and morals throughout his public and business life,  who does not go to church regularly and never have, his treatment of others and etc... nothing about his behavior reminds me of Jesus or what Jesus says on the Sermon on the Mount... a man who has shown no respect for women,  to see them only as sex objects all of his life... to grade them based on physical appearance, to be what can best be described as simply a transactional opportunist. Despite propagandized photos of him hanging out with black athletes entertainers and etc back in the day, the truth is, he was doing so because it was beneficial to HIS business as a casino owner, who was also in the fight business at the time. Did you know that he was also a Democrat? This is not a man who really cares about either party. As a transactional opportunist, he engages in things and makes allegiances that he needs at the time to benefit himself.

To know him, you only need to read a few things... read anything you can get your hands on by Ayan Rand, and know who Roy Cohen is. I've been there... had my being an Ayan Rand acolyte days, but mine was short lived and not life long. This is just who he is and in some regards, its not his fault. He was born an elitist, into a family that practiced open bigotry, that cut corners using their wealth... again, not his fault. From birth he was taught that the rules did not apply to him.... that the world only employed two categories... winners and losers. He knows... and you will get it in Ayan Rands writings, that no one cares about 2nd place... that it only matters who is winning, and who is the loser. He seeks winning at all cost, and in the present that includes dividing our country .. dangerously... on issues of race and culture to exploit the division that is always under the surface. Does he care that there are unhinged folks out there stock piling weapons because they believe a race war is imminent? No. He's not concerned about that danger and how some will react to what he stirs up. Again, all he cares about is the winning...as he is a transactional opportunist, concerned only with winning... to end up with the advantage. This is who he is, and we need to be honest about it.

In the past few months, I have had people tell me that this is the end of times (the end of the world) according to signs they speak to in the bible. Some have mentioned needing to get a gun to prepare for what they believe will be an impending race war, and some simply voiced fear.

Don't kid yourself, we are indeed in a dangerous time. Because of the science of social media platforms, algorithms, the message targeting and etc, one can easily identify and target the unhinged or those that prescribe to a certain racial view or set of beliefs based on their identified interest, websites visited and etc to send them whatever propaganda that can be created to deepen their hatred or their fears and further divide a nation; and use that same supersized division to win elections, to saturate their inboxes and social media portals  with pointed propaganda and a radical political agenda, to ultimately keep those engaged in such information so focused on their hatred.... that they fail to realize  that their pockets are being picked by the most wealthy among them. At the Mueller hearing, we learned that Russian operatives understood our vulnerabilities and exacerbated them using various tools  ( including mostly social media)  to influence an election with the goal of electing the current president, and our president welcomed it... and even asked for more.

Dr. Martin Luther King tried to do an end around how our divisions make us vulnerable to such by creating the Poor Peoples Campaign, with the idea that putting poor or marginalized people together across racial, culture and gender lines on the issue of poverty and lack of opportunity to address the real disparities that exist in America. It's an idea that was first brought to his attention by a young NAACP lawyer in Mississippi by the name of Marian Wright, who is now Marian Wright Elderman, the founder of  the Children's Defense Fund.  Dr. King was killed shortly after starting that campaign. He understood that if all people of modest means ever got together and rose up together knowing that they are in the same boat.. to not be separated by demagoguery that pit race against race, that we would have a real economic movement in America,  and substantive discussions to level the playing field for all Americans. But today, while those in power have never been keen on this idea, technology has given them diabolical tools to even better and more deeply divide Americans in a way that is not only perhaps permanent, but also dangerous. I wish there was a way to have perhaps a week whereby we divest ourselves of our smartphones, our divisive and manipulative cable news shows, and simply be communal and contemplative. A dream for sure.

Attending high school in the 1970's in my little central Florida town of Bartow , there was one class which everyone had to take and pass before graduating. This class at Bartow Senior High in 1977 was called "Orientation". Orientation was a class where we studied the Soviet Union (Russia) and to be more frank, we studied communism mostly... and  Joseph Stalin's totalitarianism that oversaw mass repressions, ethnic cleansing, deportations and executions. Back then, we understood the slippery slope of censorship, of divisions based on ethnicity as we were then bringing our country together after school integration and the civil rights act. We understood who America is and was uniquely and painfully focused on being that America, as our  striving for diversity then was a national goal as we formed our identification as a diverse nation seeking equality in all sectors of American life. This was the 70's. It included us accepting ... finally... this beautiful mixture of ethnicities, shades, languages; native Americans, immigrants and descendants of slaves. We promoted strong families, christian values, hard work , passion and compassion for the least of those by developing fair housing models, affirmative action to level the playing field, multiculturalism... all the things a strong, talented and diverse nation needed to be the powerhouse it would become. In a bad war, the vietnam war, flags were burned,  and even some of  those who served ....came back home to protest the wrongness of that war. We knew that loving America included criticizing it... that the freedom to do so is what made American great and is Americana itself. Criticizing America is loving America in its oldest tradition... as it is the charge given us by our founding fathers so that we indeed have a free society, where we constantly strove to make our union stronger... to have redress of government and to challenge power, so that we would not have a king or be ruled by a tyrannical leader. I always understood that America is where people came to escape religious persecution, to be this place where there is no state sponsored religion.... that we have religious freedoms to worship or not worship as we please. But, who are we now?

Who are we when we suggest that someone  of Muslim faith is less than me because i am of Methodist faith... that somehow by simply the designation of religious faith,  a Muslim must love America less. Are we so ignorant to actually believe that because a radical bastardized version of Islam created the suicide bombers of 9/11, that such was a true representation of its faith; what about when christian men kill outside of abortion clinics, or shoot up churches or synagogues ? Does the latter mean that all Christians like myself are bloodthirsty  murderers who hate America and the people in it, and  that they are not Americans  who are exercising our freedoms provided by our constitution as the promises of our founding fathers? We were not that way under any president in my lifetime until now. We have always been principled and careful about power, but not anymore. It's drunken and blazen displays of it in the most crass ways unimaginable.

Today, regular folks like you and I are pawns for what is an absolute power grab of the most wealthy. We used to have a FTC that realized the danger of monopolies and sought to break them up, but that no longer exist either. Our social media platforms and associated apps  are essentially just a few companies ( with some outliers waited to be bought by a larger one). In some respects that one  company ( or group of a few) is actually the government. While we march  at state capitols and march on Washington for various reasons, why are we not matching to stop our government from spying on us? Yes, that little device in you pocket is what the government, through private social media companies, use to spy on you.. to know your every interest, your exact location at all times, who your friends are, what you've taken a picture of..... to know every  aspect of your life from minute to minute because it knows where you are at all times. Why are we not picketing or marching about  that? When did we become so passive? Why do we sit back and  do nothing when we have a president whose mode of operations is to divide rather  than bring us together.. to speak to our higher angels, that does the bidding of a foreign dictatorship, that shows open preference to strong men who are often enemies of the state. Is it because we are distracted... that there is two much noise, or that there is information overload which makes it even easier for us to be manipulated... because that information overload itself forces us to get our information from those places we are predisposed to agree with.... to not challenge anything said there. Are we free thinkers anymore, or do we only think we are ... while being essentially programmed by clever algorithms and media self-targeting that we unwittingly let control our lives? When will we take our country back... take ourselves back... all of us, every hue, ethnicity, religion and all that is America?  I worry.


Michael Dobson is a longtime Tallahassee lobbyist, President/CEO of the Dream Foundation,Inc.,  founder of Florida Renewable Energy Producers Association (FREPA), Publisher of Talking Florida Politics,   and founder as President and CEO  of Dobson, Craig and Associates... one of Florida's oldest minority owned lobbying and political consulting firms in its state capital. Reach him at Michael@dobsonandcraig.com

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Governor Ron Desantis Can Have His Lincoln Moment With Amendment 4

Michael Dobson newspaper

Michael Dobson, Columnist

"The Florida House has passed a bill to implement Amendment 4 which will require citizens to pay money in order to gain the right to vote, after they have paid their debts to society, which ended with their finishing their sentences and the government releasing them to society demonstrating their debt is paid"

Desantis gov

Governor Ron Desantis

It was April 15, 1865 when an assassin’s bullet killed Abraham Lincoln. On that day of each year, we file our taxes… a day we can never forget.  We will also never forget that it was Lincoln, largely considered a father of the Republican Party, who shrewdly ended slavery through the Emancipation Proclamation of January 1, 1863 and later codified it in the 13th Amendment on January 31, 1865. Florida’s Governor Ron DeSantis now face his own Lincoln moment. Will he flinch? Will he allow power to not only supersede politics, but also the will of the voters? Make no mistake, determining the makeup of the electorate is more about power than it is politics.

This issue of race, equality, and who gets the voting franchise is indeed something thousands of Americans of all races have fought and died for. It has a long storyline in the annuals of American history.  If we consider it in the context of history, one can’t help but accept the rightness of Florida’s Amendment 4 and the voter’s intent for automatic restoration of rights. That history makes us confront the  brutality of slavery, the carnage of the civil war, the fact that in American… our jails and prisons are disproportionality populated by descendants  of former slaves, the historical genesis of state laws denying the franchise to convicted felons;  and what has been a long fight, that at times, have been a bloody one that was all a part of the  civil rights movement, which continues today.  Lincoln had a Thaddeus Stephens and other men of principles in the Republican Party who saw the rightness of freedom for all. The ideals of these men are what spurred the  Emancipation Proclamation and the  13th Amendment, which abolished slavery, however  (oddly) the 13th amendment  allows for a narrow form of slavery to persist,  when it says” neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction”.lincoln

We are left  with a  tension  in the American psyche,  which is enshrined in what the 13th amendment does… what it allows and what President Lincoln could not politically go far enough to do. Surely we would be in a different place had Lincolns assassination not  occurred at the Ford Theater.   I believe Lincoln thought he would live to fight another day to address those things he compromised on.  The issue of voting and who got the franchise (in a permanent scheme) vexed Lincoln even while winning on the emancipation.

Who gets to vote in America seems to be the last and most difficult vestige of slavery. Eliminating that last vestige has been like trying to clean an old blood stain. Lincolns Republican Party believed in the republic, in a democratic government and most importantly,  in freedom for all. He believed in the  theory (  Euclid’s mathematical rule) that if two things are the same and or made of the same thing, then they are also equal; therefore intellectually he couldn’t bring himself to accept the idea that we are not  all equal. But still, it seems that very question and its tension has been our nations Achilles heel way before i was born, and sadly,  a place we can’t seem to move away from in my 60 years on this great earth. The Republican Party of 1865 is not the same one it is today.

This writer has always believed that government should not interfere with freedom, that it should create an environment that we can all succeed and that we should have competitive markets and industries that are open to competition with level playing fields. I believe that men are equal and that the right to vote is the greatest evidence of that equality. Lincoln believed that. This idea of equality is what we have tried to deny as a human race in a variety of ways, as strong men have seen the benefit of sowing division.. to make one man suspicious, envious or even afraid of the other. Denying the automatic restoration of voting rights as amendment  4 does in plain language is just a continuation of this age old human sin… the sin of denying equal rights to equal men and women, who have an equal stake in our democracy.  The ability to vote is supposed to be that thing that for one day, election day, that our equality is laid bare…. that no matter education or station in life, each man or women has only one. It is on that day all have equal weight, each only just one vote.. to make a statement  and have a stake in America.

I am not sure when the Republican Party moved so far away from its founding principles. Was it when the largess of political power went out of the stratosphere… making good men corruptible?  Is it a truth that says it’s unnatural for anyone to give up power or even risk it? Even our philosophers such as Descartes, Plato and Aristotle have told us of man’s primal motivation of self-interest .  Governor DeSantis has an opportunity that rivals Lincoln, to be on the right side of history. He has an opportunity to askew impulses or suggestions from those who see this as only an issue of power and politics rather than the promise of America as a free a place where all men are equal. What say you to this moment Governor Desantis?

Michael Dobson is a longtime Tallahassee lobbyist, President/CEO of the Dream Foundation,Inc. and founder of Dobson, Craig and Associates. Reach him at Michael@dobsonandcraig.com

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2019 MLK Holiday Celebration shows shortcomings of today’s leaders

By Michael Dobson

King 3Trump 3ghandi

The juxtaposition of the 2019 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr Holiday, which celebrates a civil rights leader killed while supporting striking sanitation workers, against the back drop of a government shutdown… is glaring.

Government work… albeit local, state or federal, is what many Americans have used as a stepping stone to climb the economic ladder in America for generations. It is those jobs where families have been able to live with dignity, perhaps put a child through college and improve the lot of their family for generations to come. In 1968, Reverend James T. Lawson asked Dr. King to come to Memphis Tennessee and support sanitation workers who began a strike when city officials would not pay a fair wage.  Dr. King was to lead a non-violent demonstration on their behalves.  It was a time when many of the earlier preeminent civil rights battles had been fought and won, and therefore there was a shift in focus to other issues.  Dr King started putting more focus on not only civil rights;  but also issues of human rights, issues of fair pay, real opportunity, and tackling poverty. He went to where the need was. Often you hear of people (some celebrities and others) say they marched with king… to rightly remind our nation and our youth of the struggle; but what you rarely hear is that… Dr. King marched with them. YES, HE MARCHED WITH THEM.  He marched and rubbed elbows with the common man, broke bread with the common man… often times at that man’s home. He also went to jail with the common man, along side him… fighting on the behalf of the many. So, he knew the plight of those without  bootstraps in America… and could not pull themselves up alone, and wanted to improve their lots so that America would indeed live up to its own creed. The son of a Baptist minister, a learned man… he was them. It is no surprise that the plight of the common man and that of government workers is what led him to his death. It was there in Memphis Tennessee  where Dr. King will killed with an assassins bullet at the Lorraine Hotel in Memphis Tennessee on April 4, 1968. I was approaching my 10th birthday .

Today, social media and news outlets have been abuzz during the King Holiday Celebration around the fact that it seems the current occupant in the White House chose not to engage in a large public celebration of Dr Kings Birthday , nor did he encourage others to celebrate  with any noteworthy rhetoric.  Perhaps he understood the optics, the irony and the juxtaposition of what he alone…  has owned, and  has done to countless families around America today, and how those actions are reaching into various parts of our national economy.  There can be nothing more contrary to the King legacy than the current government shutdown. First, it starts with an entrenched demand that a   “wall” between us and our neighbors be built. It’s a  Presidential  promised made to a few …shortly after ascending an escalator in Trump Plaza  to deliver what was the most racist and hate filled  statement ever made to the American people as a reason for a political campaign. He said that Mexicans ( a whole region of fellow humans)  where thieves, murderers and rapist…. then famously said  “some of them”  are good people. Shortly after that, it became one of his most frequently used campaign mantras in addition to “lock her up”. It was that if you elect me, we will “ build the wall”… meaning building a “wall” between the U. S. and Mexico, and then stated that Mexico would pay for it. Even a majority of the members of his own party does not support the idea. Moreover, Mexico in no uncertain terms (in their former Presidents language) has said that "they will not pay for the F------ wall".

Neither did Dr.  King or President Ronald Reagan build walls, they tore them down. For Dr. King, we are all brothers.... regardless of where we live on the globe, to never equate an entire ethnicity or inhabitants of any region to be  sole  purveyors of  the  most deplorable acts of all of humanity. One man sows peace, while the other plays to our most basic fears, our hatred … and particularly whatever fears that  dwell in the hearts of some about those who are different…. who speak a different language, have a different sexual orientation, a different hew of the skin… or more pigmentation.   Today’s contradictions of who we are and our place in the world  is glaring when held side by side with the life and legacy of Dr. King, Ronald Reagan and others . Some suggest the  current administration decided  not to engage in an elaborate celebration or acknowledgement the holiday because it knew that  the backdrop of the shutdown against the King legacy would produce shocking criticism from various corners. But more fundamentally, it shows us where we are as a nation. It shows that even if we are not going backward, we certainly are not going forward. Its showing us that an appreciation for regular working people has become a thing of the past and we no longer consider what we know from history with regard to the workers movement in America… the movement that allowed many to enter the middle class. But this is happening while we also say we are putting America  and its people first.

On January 21, 2019 we celebrated a civil rights icon as we do each year on the third Monday of January. The Federal government was closed due to that national holiday. They did not have to work. But the next day they had to work They did so without pay. More like, forced to do so without pay.  It was our government doing this, not a plantation owner in the deep  south in the 1700’s or 1800’s… but our government as directed by our President  in 2021. History shedded a tear on Monday. On Monday, it was as if the lessons learned from Ghandi,  Dr. Martin Luther King, Cesar Chavez, Abraham Lincoln, Harriet Tubman, John Wesley , Martin Luther  and the son of God as learned about in our bibles…. have all been ignored.   I believe in America. We are a resilient nation. So, I don’t believe the work of Dr. King and others were in vain. But I am concerned.

Michael Dobson is a longtime Tallahassee lobbyist, founder of Dobson, Craig and Associates, publisher of Talking Florida Politics, President/CEO of the Dream Foundation,Inc and founder of the Florida Renewable Energy Producers Association. Reach him at Michael@dobsonandcraig.com

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Florida Voters have seen this movie before, but are they ready for a change.. appears they are

By Michael Dobson:

Oh yes, finally  the “Lock Him Up” chants.

The Florida governor’s race is now unabashedly a  Clinton vs Trump redux. More proof of that? Well, what was once a  whisper, is  becoming a roar that if Andrew Gillum is elected (like it was for Hilary),  that somehow he will go to jail shortly thereafter? So, like it was for Hilary (now Gillum), the message to the undecided voters is… don’t waste your vote,he will go to jail after winning. But wait, those same loud and constant beatings of the drum  are being done with no factual basis for any of the claims. And, as we know, that doesn’t matter right? Not if you win.

To win this race (like 2016), there  also has been a proliferation of "fake news" sites and accompanying articles that germinate into a constant slew of devastating headlines  that are usually a rehash of old news with added buzz words like “ bribe”, ”crooked”, “ will raise you taxes” , a “liberal”,  “hustler”, and pledge to “bring prosecution” and etc. All ripped out of the pages of the 2016 National GOP playbook… which ultimately worked. But, given the rate at which registered  Democrats are going to the polls in unprecedented numbers, none of it appears to be working

There has been columns suggesting Mr Gillum needs to come clean and not continue to aptly avoid more direct responses regarding the New York and Costa Rico trip, which he has now followed up that urging with an open and far ranging interview with the Tallahassee Democrat. Now, because the Democrats have not been disarmed, after 2016 and the online campaign ran against Hilary using the exact same tactics, are the Democrats not prepared to fight this fight on the internet and on social media platforms? Not as aggressively as some would wish, so redux it is… or isn’t. But perhaps the voters are smarter this time.. the fool me once shame on me and….., to not be fooled this time. Moreover, the  avalanche of scurrilous headlines from newly created “news” sites alone is dizzying… along with the rapidity of which  they are shared, often by the same individuals who  are quick to  label what they disagree with  “fake  news”, to   now themselves  prolifically  disseminate what is truly  “fake”. The execution of such strategies is to be applauded. It is unrelenting, using a deep bench of acolytes who are readily disseminating such information.. and expertly using social media algorithms. But the question is, has the voter matured since 2016. Will today’s voter know the trick for what it is? Only time will tell.

Considering 2016, voters must also remember this: In the end the polls do not matter, no one is going to jail… no bribes and etc in the end, calling or labeling someone “crooked” does not make it so,  no governor has the ability to raise the state of Florida’s taxes ( three branches of government for a reason), only 3 percent of corporations in Florida pay any corporate taxes and they are the largest ( that will never change and is not what is being proposed anyway); but those facts does not stop purveyors of gross mischaracterizations, and ( if political candidates where not public figures) the peddling of what would ordinarily be called slander. But, who said politics was playing bean bag anyway?

And now we have the words “ crooked Mayor Gillum” oozing from the lips of Ron DeSantis. and chants of "lock him up" at recent GOP rallies as mentioned at the top.

So, what say you Mr and Mrs Voter? What say you? Will you recognize a strategy that has been honed to near perfection and not take the bait? Will voters seek the balance that comes  when it is not one party that rules every branch of government, knowing that such balance  allows for  real and serious discussion on issues that impact our lives…. when the  best solutions are implemented regardless of whose party’s idea it was. That’s the real fight.   Do we change how decisions are made in Tallahassee and  do we have a government where all elected officials chosen by voters get their voices heard? Or is it iron clad one party rule. Yes,  the real fight.

There remains faith in our democracy in the idea of a working  three legged stool of checks and balances in our institutions and branches.   If the momentum and energy seen at the polls reflected in early votes  are indicative of anything, the voters may be expressing that faith and clamoring for real dialogue on solving our problems. They have seen this movie before from the 2016 playbook and just may be seeking real change.. and to do something historic. Again, we will see.

Michael Dobson is a longtime Tallahassee lobbyist, founder of Dobson, Craig and Associates, publisher of Talking Florida Politics and founder of the Florida Renewable Energy Producers Association. Reach him at Michael@dobsonandcraig.com

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By Michael Dobson
Fl governors debate 1

When writing an opinion or sharing a thought in any manner, I often ask to what benefit  is this thought or observation being shared. Then I do ask how it may impact me if not clearly understood. I then always answer that if it’s true and in any way moves humanity forward to a better place, then it must be said

So, I start with this … did you notice? Did you notice that “Mayor Gillum” is not an “opponent”  of Congressman Ron DeSantis for the office of Governor of Florida? According to Congressman DeSantis,  he is running against a boy named Andrew or Andy.

Let’s be clear and speak as adults here. Mr. DeSantis continually addressing Mayor Gillum as “Andrew” and even “Andy” during a televised debate on October 21, 2018 was both knowingly (or unknowingly) considered by some as racist and by many as disrespectful. It is the oldest of tools from the tool box of the southern slave owner to demean a black male in the eyes of the world, to himself , to his wife and to his children. It is to never acknowledge his position, person-hood  or his manhood, but to instead refer to him as a “boy” … by first name only.. never a “Mister”, “Sir” or any titled at all.. preferring to simply call him boy.

In 2018, considering the strides we thought we have made with regard to race, we read headlines and see instances on our social media feeds almost daily to remind us that we uncorked the Champagne a bit too soon. But the governor’s debate in Florida displayed where we are in both a loud and subtle way,  all together. It was done by Mr. DeSantis articulately demeaning the person-hood and manhood of his opponent, making sure he “knew his place”… by never referring to him as a man of accomplishment, of equal stature, or  of having any professional title whatsoever... nor simply referring to him as "my opponent". It was more than a dog whistle. When asked about the “monkey  it up” comment, Mr. DeSantis deflected by pleading ignorance to how in the world the statement could be deemed offensive as it was no way near his intent or conscious understanding.  I believe Mr. DeSantis to be a man of above average intelligence, and as such believe he knew full well what he was doing and was doing it with a purpose when he continuously referred to Mayor Gillum as Andrew or Andy.  He may as well have called him “boy”.

And, If anyone believes Mr. DeSantis  is not running a bombastic and racially decisive campaign similar to what one would expect from his most ardent supporter in chief, then you are mistaking his better grasp of the English language (than his muse) for something more  loftier. Perhaps he knows that in 1972 the state of Florida voted overwhelmingly for George Wallace, who ran for President  on a segregationist platform. Being a smart guy, he knows that for some, the racist “Jim Crow” Florida of my childhood seemed like just yesterday, and for many , it would be a cold day in hell before someone of Mr. Gillum's pigment inhabit the governor’s mansion. His win strategy includes and depends upon that vote, and therefore likely,  that’s the crowd he’s playing to.. to follow the Trump play book, as discussed in "The Lowest White Man" .. an op ed by Charles Blow. After all,  a win is a win…. and its all about winning. But, at some point we have to ask the question, at what cost? At what cost do we continue to divide our nation by playing to and hardening divides that exist from ill-conceived and knowingly false  ideas of superiority and entitlement based on skin color or places of  origin. At what cost is it in the balance of humanity for us to continue these divisive tactics to perpetuate hate, when we have more in common than differences?  It is my hope that Mr DeSantis can begin to run a more respectful campaign and not play to what is the worst in humanity. That’s the kind of leadership we need.

Michael Dobson is a longtime Tallahassee lobbyist, founder of Dobson, Craig and Associates, publisher of Talking Florida Politics and founder of the Florida Renewable Energy Producers Association. Reach him at Michael@dobsonandcraig.com or Michael@michaeldobson.org.

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History Shows Gillum Not In FBI Cross-hairs

A view

In America, when it comes to a black man, its usually hunt him down, hang him and ask questions later or never. It's been that way since Africans were bounded and dragged to this country for free labor; and despite decades of work to make justice work equally, we are still nowhere near that because of biases that flourish in the system itself.

Anyone will tell you that blacks are 10 times more likely to be prosecuted for the same crime than a white person.

Nowhere in the history of America, has a black man, named as a suspect in an FBI investigation that last nearly two years ....who the FBI deem to be guilty of a crime, was not arrested by now... accept for when that's not true i.e. Gillum is not a named suspect.  Actually, there is rarely any instances where a black man with only a small degree  of guilt based on just a smidgen of evidence was not charged and arrested. And in the case of Andrew Gillum,  if named as a part of an investigation ( which he is not)  and with evidence gathered in investigation that has lasted nearly two years, coupled with the fact that he  was not charged and arrested a long time ago, is the sunshine and bright light of the truth, a truth that is not politically convenient.

That truth? Whether you agree with his policy proposals or not, one thing is clear, Andrew Gillum IS NOT under FBI investigation, and he is not guilty, because if those two things were true, his black ass would have been in jail a long time ago. That's the way America rolls broh.




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Is Bob Graham the most influential Democrat in Florida?

by Michael Dobson:


Coming of age in Florida during the 1970’s, my earliest memories of Florida politics were of the names Bob Graham and Lawton Chiles. Then came Tom Gallagher, Bob Butterworth and Bill Nelson.  Back then, Florida politicians were mostly homegrown, and usually affiliated with the University of Florida, which was known as the boy college back then, before FSU and UF became co-ed.

So, when Gwen Graham announced her candidacy for Governor, atlas… a familiar name from the old Florida. Distractors  immediately said  she was simply running on her father Bob Graham’s name, and that it  wouldn’t work (if she was)  because  her father had not been on a Florida ballot since 1998, had not been in public office for more than a decade, and it has been over 30 years since he was the Governor of Florida. For them, it meant little that Bob Graham left the Florida Governor’s office with an approval rating of 83% and it never got below 73%, while Scott has at times struggled to be above 40%. They also said many of today’s Floridians have no idea who Bob Graham is. Well, this writer begs to differ.

First, the most reliable native voting demographic in Florida (ages 50-64) knows full well who Bob Graham is. Additionally, for the last few years, Bob Graham's focus has taken him to environmental conservation rally’s around the state, speaking in front of environmental groups, at Rotary clubs.. you name it,  to talk about civic engagement , environment, and education to name a few. Bob Graham has not been quiet. Consequently, many have fallen under the spell of the Graham magic. It’s easy. Here’s a guy who is a native Floridian from a pioneering family, is unassuming,  a former Governor who everyone calls one of Florida’s best, a known policy wonk, a Governor who did work days.. whereby he did ordinary jobs working side by side with ordinary citizens at their  jobs  (which his daughter emulates). Something his daughter does... even up to election day.

Then there’s the always present notepad in his shirt pocket.. which he uses when you talk with him (I wonder what he was writing when he and I met some years ago), and  the neckties with “Florida” imprinted all over them. Also, who can forget his role as the Chair of the Senate Intelligence Commission ….whereby he led the Joint Congressional Investigation into   9/11 .... and whom the world listened to as he gave a comprehensive oral report on the investigations findings. Then there is The Bob Graham Center for Public Service at the University of Florida. It is there where   Floridians young and old learn more about Bob Graham, and pine for a Florida of yesterday when his type of leadership was the standard… to deal with contemporary realities.  

In her recent interview with the Tallahassee Democrat Editorial Board, Gwen Graham answered questions using examples of real life she experienced on her work days, about what she learned from others. In those answers you saw her wonkiness regarding arcane policy detail at work.. especially regarding the environment.  I saw her father in her. Then there is Adel Graham wearing her now famous green and white dress with the word Graham imprinted on the fabric in various places forming what could easily be tacky, but instead, an eye catching design. Adel Graham also makes Facebook post in support of her daughter. Then to top it all, get this…. Gwen Graham’s ex-husband is her Campaign Treasurer. 

In early interviewers, she disarmed those who said she’s running on her father’s name. She said  yes I am…  that she loves him, is proud to be his daughter,  proud of his service, that he’s been  a great example for her, and that she also seeks his advice. She reiterates that in this recent article by the Huffington Post here.  Her approach to public policy is deliberate, and studied… a lot like her dad.   

Watching this Democratic field and hearing their echoes and concerns for the common man, I am reminded of the loftier explanation of why the Democrats symbol is a Donkey. That explanation considers the symbol to be Biblical, contrary to the story of Andrew Jackson taking up the Donkey in 1828 when his opponents called him a jackass.  For some, the Democratic Donkey symbolizes the New Testaments telling of Jesus riding of a Donkey into Jerusalem, instead of a regal horse.... which would have been a symbol of power and wealth. Some scholars say Jesus chose the Donkey because it is an animal of the common man. Which is what ' opponent Chris King comes close to saying when he says his religious faith is a "curiosity" in the Democratic party. " 

Above may explain the big broad tent, the party for all, care for the little guy...the  common man or women, being a welcoming home to those of all sexual persuasions, nationality, race and religion..... its strength. That’s what’s at stake in this election for many, the needs of the common man. If not simply the common man, this election is also a grab for the old Florida,  where environmental stewardship is brought back to its proper place.  It's a place Mr. Graham helped foster, and is guiding his daughter to its rediscovery.   Perhaps this is Bob Graham’s swan song…. even endorsing candidates like Sean Shaw, a candidate for Attorney General. In the end, we may find that Bob Graham still has the Midas touch, as his daughter leads the pack…  he having  never lost a race, possibly making him the most influential Democrat in Florida.


Michael Dobson is a longtime Tallahassee lobbyist, founder of Dobson, Craig and Associates, publisher of Talking Florida Politics and founder of the Florida Renewable Energy Producers Association. Reach him at Michael@dobsonandcraig.com.


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