Choice is good
The Palm Beach Post profiled the Democratic primary for the State House seat I am represented by. Incumbent Shelley Vana is being challenged by political newcomer Jeffrey T Murphy. Vana is running for a third term in office.
I've written about Vana before. To put it mildly, I'm not crazy about her. She seems divided between her union leadership work and being a state legislator. In TFM's, Vana needs to choose one or the other, not attempt to do both. That's why I'm likely to support Murphy(Remember I'm a registered Democrat) but I think Vana will win the primary.
Note- If Murphy hasn't met Vana, he must not have gotten a knock on his door 4 years ago. Vana went door to door in my neighborhood before the 2002 election.
Also Vana and the local Democratic party leadership resent Murphy's challenge of the state representative. Many politicos(of both parties) think incumbents should get a free ride in the party primary. TFM thinks otherwise, seeing the more alternatives that are given voters increases the likelihood we'll get better representation. No politician deserves a free ride.
Linked to- Bright & Early
State Rep. Shelley Vana's bid for a third term is being challenged this year in the Democratic primary by a suburban Lake Worth businessman hoping to pull off an upset.
Jeffrey T. Murphy, a political novice who owns a roofing company, faces an uphill battle against Vana's fund-raising edge and comparatively broad name recognition. During her four years in office, Vana has risen to one of the state Democratic Party's leadership positions: vice chair of the Democratic Caucus.
As he seeks to unseat Vana, Murphy has not attended political forums or debates, insisting he has never been invited. He says he has never met Vana.
But Murphy says he believes he has a real shot at victory, arguing that Vana is relatively unknown in District 85 and that her constituents need a change.
"It seemed that Shelley Vana was largely ineffective," Murphy said about his decision to run. "It didn't seem that much was happening."
Vana counters that she has done plenty during her last two terms. She points out that the bills she has managed to make into law include one that makes it easier for some children to receive health care, one that gives Loxahatchee Groves the ability to become a municipality and one that requires doctors' prescriptions to be legible.
"Look at my record," she said. "I've passed a lot of bills."
During her time in Tallahassee, Vana has been one of the Democrats' leading authorities on education policy. A former teacher and head of the teachers union, she has made education issues the centerpiece of her previous campaigns.
But Vana's campaign, like all others in South Florida, has been swept up in the wake of post-hurricane fallout. These days, Vana spends far more time talking about homeowners insurance than the FCAT.
She said she would like to see lawmakers reconsider a Democratic proposal for the state to cover the first $100,000 of all windstorm damage in Florida homes. Democrats have also previously proposed a program in which all Florida homes would buy windstorm insurance from the state.
With education her true speciality, Vana said she wants to continue fighting to ensure the state's plan to reduce class sizes in public schools is properly financed.
Murphy, if elected, said he wants to take the insurance issue head on. To ensure homeowners insurance is widely available, Murphy wants to require insurance companies to offer windstorm policies to nearly all homes, with the exception of part-time residences and coastal houses.
Murphy warns that the state is also going to have to address the increase in defaulting mortgages as the real estate bubble threatens to burst. He said the state needs to find ways to create more affordable housing, possibly by requiring developers to include it when they build high-end homes.
When it comes to education, Murphy wants to remove the monetary incentives attached to the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test. He says school grades based on FCAT scores wrongfully punish schools with struggling students.
Vana was first elected to the state House in 2002, after narrowly defeating Republican Andy Edwards by 607 votes. She beat him again in 2004.
Before that, Vana headed the county's public school teachers union, the Classroom Teachers Association.
Murphy, a native of Coral Gables now living west of Lake Worth, said he has worked in construction since he was 18 and has owned his own business since age 20. He said he has always wanted to get into politics and figured now was a good a time.
Records show he has been convicted three times in Florida for driving under the influence of alcohol, with the most recent arrest in 1995. He has had his license suspended twice. He says he has since stopped drinking.
Murphy and Vana are battling to represent District 85, which includes Wellington and parts of Palm Springs, Atlantis, Loxahatchee and Lake Clarke Shores.
The winner of the primary election on Sept. 5 will face Republican nominee Rob Siedlecki in November's general election. It is expected to be a hotly contested campaign.