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Nancy Smith

Gayle Harrell's Steady Ride; Betting Big on Scott Pruitt

December 10, 2016 - 6:00am

This column is a vehicle for a number of items in a bits-and-pieces, strictly opinion, sometimes irreverent format. Look for "Just Sayin'" to run once a week in this spot.

Would Gayle Harrell Have Galloped into the Sunset? 

Sometimes newspaper editorial recommendations at election time can up and bite the hand that wrote them. Doesn't happen often, but certainly it can and maybe did this year at Treasure Coast Newspapers -- when The Stuart News recommended Democrat Chrystal Lucas for state House rather than incumbent Republican Gayle Harrell.

Turns out the editors were tricked by a one-trick pony.

(And by the way, in full disclosure you should know I worked for this newspaper myself for nearly 28 years.)

It came as a shock to a lot of local people at the time, that the paper would snub Harrell. "What are they thinking?" Susie Snell Morgan asked me Oct. 17, the day after the paper ran with the Lucas endorsement. I had no idea why they did it then, I certainly have no idea now. The vote wasn't even close. Harrell won reelection by 9 clear percentage points.

It's hard to understand why no recommendation. It's not as if Harrell didn't fight for the sickened lagoon and estuary. Some in the House have told me there would have been no Legacy Florida legislation had Harrell not persevered at the outset. She has done as much as anyone I know to get the attention of politicians and bureaucrats above or beyond her station to address the plight of the St. Lucie estuary. Certainly she's moved the needle in the right direction. And her work on medical issues and on education and other children's issues over an off-and-on period of a decade and a half in the Legislature is also well known.

Few lawmakers in Tallahassee have lived in their district longer or know their landscape any better than Harrell.

Nevertheless, the newspaper's editorial board preferred 33-year-old educator Lucas for her passion for Sen. Joe Negron's proposal to buy 60,000 acres south of Lake Okeechobee. And editors generally liked her enthusiasm to end the crisis plaguing the polluted St. Lucie estuary. They presented her as a candidate who would get things done given a chance, because she was more closely aligned to the community at that moment than Harrell. "She's no one-trick pony," the editorial said.

Never mind that Lucas is a Democrat, and Democrats in the House sit on the back bench most of their first term fighting just to catch leadership's eye. Like it or not, party is important in Tallahasee.

But here's the rub, and why I'm writing this particular story now:

Sure, candidates often lose, even after they get the local paper's endorsement. It happens. But seldom do newspapers lose with them.

Turns out Lucas is a "one-trick pony" after all. The day after the election, she put her house on the market and announced she will be moving out of state.  

"I am not going to go through another 'lost summer' or, in this case, another 'lost year,'" Lucas told the newspaper that backed her, referring to the Lake Okeechobee discharges. Lucas said she, her husband and her 8-year-old daughter will stay where they are until the end of the school year. Most recently, Lucas was an adjunct at Indian River State College but said she didn't sign up to teach this semester because she was counting on winning the election. "All my eggs were in this basket," Lucas said. Best of luck, District 83, I'm outta here. 

So much for fighting for the community good. 


Scott Pruitt: Inspired Choice to Return the EPA to Law-Abiding Citizen

A man the left dismisses as a climate denier and a powerful advocate against regulation, is probably the perfect appointee to the cabinet-level position of EPA chief.

Even the Wall Street Journal asks of Scott Pruitt, who better to lead the behemoth, lawless Environmental Protection Agency than a lawyer himself? The Oklahoma attorney general is an expert in constitutional law and brings a deep understanding of the impact of regulations on both the environment and the economy.

Who could forget these EPA beauties in the last eight years, which directly or indirectly affected Florida: "the Clean Power Plan to put the coal industry out of business, the carbon endangerment rule, grabbing authority to call any pond or puddle a 'waterway,'" and so much more than that.

Pruitt’s first job will be restoring respect for the Constitution and cooperative federalism in EPA rule-making. He knows how to do this because he led the legal charge by the states against EPA abuses, including the victory of a Supreme Court stay on the Clean Power Plan as it moves through the appellate courts.

Last year Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi joined 23 other attorneys general in a legal action against the U.S. EPA for illegally invalidating the individual air quality protection plans in those states. In June 2015, the EPA issued a final rule requiring 35 states, including Florida, to revise their individual State Implementation Plans governing carbon emissions during power plant startup, shutdown or malfunction.

“We will not step aside while the EPA, through heavy-handed federal overreach, threatens to upend a system that the EPA has approved multiple times and has provided a consistent, reliable framework to safely provide electricity to millions of Floridians across the state; furthermore, the agency’s action could result in higher utility bills for Florida consumers,” Bondi argued.

Bondi and Florida generally have butted heads with the EPA on overreach. For Florida, a state with a vulnerable ecosystem and a population trying to live within its means, there has to be some effort to find a balance. Under the Obama administration, that hasn't been happening at the federal level.

And, by the way, the only reason the left labels Pruitt a climate-change denier is because he disagrees with them on energy policy. Says the Journal, "Mr. Pruitt will probably do more for the environment than Mr. Obama ever did because he will make sure that rules issued by the EPA are rooted in law and thus won’t be overturned in court." 

Scott Pruitt is a good bet for a Trump success. Widely regarded as fair-minded and diligent, he will restore balance to the agency’s relationships with Congress, the states, and private industry.

Reach Nancy Smith at or at 228-282-2423. Twitter: @NancyLBSmith



I'm NOT a resident of this legislative district...but I can say that I've had the privilege to work with Rep. Harrell during her first stint in the House and now in her second stint...she is an extraordinary woman with boundless energy and a sharp mind...she has been a champion on criminal justice reform, to the point, that the Florida Smart Justice Alliance awarded her our annual Legislator of the Year that is richly deserved...she is no pushover by the way, but when she believes in something, she gets it a former executive director of the Florida Democratic Party, I can tell you that a Democrat legislator is basically useless, especially in the House...they have little power and most of them are for Nancy Smith, Mrs. Lucas, you're barking up the wrong tree...Nancy is a treasure and she will go after Repub's just as much as she does Dem's if she thinks their wrong...that is honest journalism!

Thank you Mr. Bishop for those kind words regarding both Rep. Harrell and Nancy Smith. I have personally known both of them for over 30 years and they are both great leaders!

congratulations to Gayle Harrell and the voters who selected her. She is a most capable and caring representative and we are all lucky in Florida to have her voice in the Florida House,.

God bless Gayle Harrell! She is a true "representative" of the people. She stood with us in PB Cty as we fought the opening of El Sol where our tax payer $$ would support programs for the illegal aliens! She is the wife of a Doctor and knows a lot about our medical system pro and con. I don't live in her district; however we have all benefited from the legislation she sponsored called "Legacy Fl" to truly provide the state's contribution to funding the restoration of the Everglades. Will it pacify the enviros? Probably not but as a victim of the PB Cty victim of the land grab in Unit 11 I am grateful to Rep Harrell for her efforts to safeguard our liberty!!!!

Ms. Smith I wanted to clarify, we are selling our home and keeping our second rental property here in Stuart. We are taking a year off to travel with our 9 year old daughter and show her some of the USA. I would suggest you do something for this community yourself other than write articles about elections that happened over a month ago. By the way, I think that a 9 pt loss against a 14 year entrenched incumbent is not to shabby. The R party sent out over 9 separate pieces of mail about Harrell, she ran commercials galore and I was personally attacked by three separate PACs (all falsely too).

You and I have never met Ms. Lucas. I am sure you are an admirable person. But I too have heard around town that you are leaving to live in Colorado (not to show your daughter America). I expect Nancy Smith heard the same thing which is why she wrote this. As for Nancy doing "something for this community" I think she did for 28 years and is still doing something. Just not what you would want her to do. Go ahead and leave for now and God speed. We will still be here when you get back.

Joel, you should send me your address and I'll have my daughter send you a post card from all the beautiful places we visit on our adventure around the US...btw, don't always listen to what you "hear around town".

Good closing comment on HD 83. Democratic representation in the Florida House is no representation at all currently.

Comments are now closed.

nancy smith

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