Political Pilgrimage 5 – A History Lesson

When The Old Fool and his family moved to Tampa, Florida, in 1950,  they moved into a largely solid democratic south forged in the modern era by Franklin D. Roosevelt. At that time a politician who won the democratic primary had won the election because the Republican party was almost nonexistent in the south. 

The scene changed when the national Democratic Party first condoned and then led the civil rights movement.  Passing the voting rights act was the last straw and  the south became mostly Republican. 

In 1967, Claude Kirk became the first Republican Florida governor in 90 years.  In 1970 Rueben Askew, young Democratic candidate for governor captured the attention of The Old Fool.  Askew defeated Kirk and became known as one of the first governors of the new south. 

That same year Lawton Chiles, a little known politician, fascinated The Old Fool and the people of Florida by walking the length of the state.  Walking 1003 miles was no small feat. Chiles  became known as walkin Lawton. He was elected to the US senate and served for 18 years before resigning from the senate to defeat Robert Martinez, the governor of Florida.

Martinez, a Tampa native, was a Democrat when he was elected Mayor of Tampa. In mid-term he resigned as Mayor of Tampa, became a Republican, and ran successfully for governor of Florida, but he failed to carry his home-town in that election. Chiles, who never lost an election in a four decade career, defeated Martinez in a landslide election.      

When The Old Fool registered to vote as a Democrat he was going against the tide in Florida and the south.  But he identified with the minorities who combined to make a majority in the city of Tampa.  The city remained true  to its roots when it a elected a Democratic mayor while the state elected a Republican business man as governor.

 In the next post The Old Fool will reveal his stance in the current political contest.  Subscribe/Unsubscribe

About Martin Lehman

I was born 92 years ago, the son of a Mennonite pastor and organic gardener in Franklin County, Pennsylvania. At age 10 I was baptized as a member of the Marion Mennonite Church. I own the "Old Fool" moniker because I want to walk the Jesus Way even though the world and much of the church takes me as a fool for doing so. In my life I have moved from being a young conservative to an elderly radical. I tell that story in My Faith Journey posted on my website.
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