Jonesing for McBride

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Ever go to a party to see one person only to find he's not there? You walk around, disappointed, offering niceties to the people you meet and waiting for the perfect time to escape unnoticed.

That's what state Sen. Daryl Jones, D-Miami, must have felt like on June 13 when he found himself at a political forum hosted by the University of South Florida-St. Petersburg and intended to offer Floridians their first look at the gubernatorial candidates.

Gov. Jeb Bush and Democratic candidate Janet Reno declined the invitation. Tampa lawyer Bill McBride said he would come, and Jones wanted to word-wrestle his fellow Democrat. But because McBride canceled at the last minute, Jones found himself with a collection of minor-party and independent candidates who gave new meaning to political circus. They were:

... John Wayne Smith, an independent candidate running on a Libertarian platform, who called public education "government indoctrination." What does he think of smaller class sizes? "When teachers have fewer students to indoctrinate, the better they can do it," said Smith, who didn't bother to iron or tuck in his shirt and is proud of the fact that he lives a half-mile from where he was born.

... Nancy Grant, a veritable conspiracy theorist and founder of the Christian Party, whose platform is The Ten Commandments. (Who's going to argue policy with her, Lucifer?) "We have judges in this state who are worse than the criminals," said Grant, who added that she's tired of Tallahassee's "lying and stealing."

... Ken Booth, a Gainesville teacher and one-issue (education) write-in candidate whose campaign is funded from a $200 gift from his wife. "I've got business cards," said Booth.

... Adam Rosen, an Independence Party candidate who, in classic minor-party style, arrived 45 minutes late due to traffic congestion on I-275.The Planet commends Jones for his patience. When Smith called the career politician "the senator, the congressman, the state senator, whatever he is," Jones just offered the crowd his million-dollar smile. It seemed Jones could have lost it when a twentysomething with a "100% Hemp" hat came to the microphone and — ugh! — asked the medicinal marijuana question. After having to listen to all the other candidates express support for the study of medicinal marijuana, Jones responded tersely: "I would not support it."

In the end, Jones hung in there ( but he must have been cursing McBride under his breath. That was rude, Bill.

—Trevor Aaronson

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