Since folks are giving their recommendations as to who to vote for, so I'll give you mine. You already know who I support for President. My pick for Senate is Patrick Murphy, even though back in 2002, I helped create Marco Rubio.
How, you're probably asking, did I create Marco Rubio.
Miguel De Grandy and I were hired by Florida House Speaker Tom Feeney to run the redistricting for the Florida House, Florida Senate, and the Florida Congressional Districts. Our plan was to tightly control what was being said during debates. (A lot of voting rights cases had been attacked on the strength of stupid things said by the majority party during debate.) So I started writing a screenplay, a live action art installation, of how the floor debate for the plans should go. Feeney put the word out to his members: If you aren't given a notebook with a script, you don't say anything. The Democrats had no idea of what we were doing. Feeney had a role as Speaker. So did Johnny Byrd, the Reapportionment Chair and upcoming Speaker. There was a speaking part for Mario Diaz-Balart, the chair of the Congressional Districting subcommittee. Bruce Kyle was the chair of Senate District subcommittee and he got a script.
But we wanted to have one of the other Hispanic members of the House play a prominent role. The role required a small challenge to the conventional wisdom and with it, a challenge to Johnnie Byrd. (Byrd was in on it.) Miguel and I approached Gaston Cantens, who was in line to be Speaker after Byrd. We told him what we wanted him to do. He wanted no part of it. Cantens was set to be the first Cuban-American Speaker and thought that reading a script was beneath him. (Byrd was feared by House members, but Cantens was grudgingly respected by them as a future Speaker.) Miguel and I polished the script as the 3 redistricting plans made their way through the Committees and towards the floor.
Without a Hispanic House member, we were afraid that we'd have to redo the play we were writing. Miguel suggested that we sit down with a young guy from West Miami who was the start of his second term, Marco Rubio. We did, and Marco agreed to his role. On the day of the floor debate on second reading, Miguel's associate, Nick Mazzora, went onto the House floor with a stack of black binders. Every player got one and each played his part. Marco was so convincing in the way that he challenged Johnny Byrd that it made an impression on the Republican House members. That one performance by Marco made members reconsider their support for Gasten Cantons. Why make him the first Cuban-American Speaker, the chatter began, when we can support Marco? I overheard members talking about how amazed they were that Marco had the courage to stand up to Johnnie Byrd. Gaston's support evaporated that day and Marco secured enough votes to become Speaker from 2006 to 2008. Without being Speaker, Marco would have gone back to West Miami as a term limited legislator with a small ego wall. Instead, he used it as the launchpad for his Senate campaign and, from there, to his abortive attempt to get the GOP nomination.
Marco wasn't always the staunch conservative he tries to portray himself as now. At one point, he was a fan of my mentor, Rep. Bill Sadowski, who was both a liberal and a progressive. (Those are two different things, by the way.) But Marco hitched his wagon to the Tea Party star to get into the US Senate. And once there, he spent all of his time trying to become President. I have no doubt that, if he gets reelected, he'll be trudging up to Manchester, New Hampshire and Center City, Iowa in 2018 to pick up where he left off.
I don't regret creating Marco Rubio. I just wished I had more of a chance to teach him what the service part of public service means. He was a fan of the words of Bill Sadowski once, but the meaning of those words was lost on him. For that reason, I'm voting for Patrick Murphy for US Senate.