As to be expected, once over, the experienced politicians in the race were both quick to project themselves as having prevailed, however, determining the true winner is a more subjective matter.
Voters had the opportunity to hear from GOP primary contenders Adam Hasner, George LeMieux, Mike McCalister and Craig Miller on a series of questions covering both social and fiscal issues.
Ultimately, in determining a winner, you have to ask yourself which candidate benefited most from the event. With that criteria in mind, it seems clear that the ultimate winner is none other than former CEO Craig Miller.
As a supporter of Miller, it's only natural that I'd conclude as much, right? And to quell persistent rumors that I am being compensated for that support, allow me to go on the record here and now to say that is not the case. Rumors put forth by folks who've long ago been tainted by the corruption of politics and conclude that it's just not possible to support a candidate with such conviction unless there's personal gain involved.
Allow me to present my case...
Did Miller have the best command of the issues? No, that distinction belonged to former state Republican Majority Leader Adam Hasner. With more years in elected office than the others, to be expected. It would only be a story if he did not have that command.
Was Miller the most polished candidate on the stage? No, that honor would go to former U.S. Senator George LeMieux - having spent 16 mos. in the U.S. Senate, no surprise here. It's not possible to spend that much time in the world's greatest deliberative body alongside some of the most influential political leaders in the country without benefiting from that experience.
What sets Craig Miller apart in yesterday's debate is that in his very first opportunity to share the limelight with the rest of the field, he proved without a doubt that he more than belonged on the same stage.
Yet, where he was most successful was in that he showed the voters of Florida that they now have a strong, viable option to the 'politics of old'.
Politics that the citizens of this state see play out daily as the other campaigns throw one attack piece after another at each other, making almost childish accusations of who's more conservative than who or who's conspiring with who to undermine who. Meanwhile, Rome continues to burn....
[Which brings me to another thought on yesterday's debate - spending significant time on whether Internet gambling should or should not be controlled by government equates to little more than rearranging the deck chairs as the Titanic slowly sinks.]
When CEO's of large corporations are faced with a major crisis, they do not have the luxury of throwing flowery rhetoric at the problem, of falling back on practiced prose. Nor do they have the luxury of kicking the can further down the road. Successful CEO's must provide real solutions that affect immediate results.
As Miller responded to the various questions, it was evident that this is a man with proven problem solving skills. He consistently offered sound, reasonable solutions that would bring immediately relief to the challenges we face.
It's one thing to say that repealing the 16th Amendment and abolishing the IRS are solutions to our problems, however, when recognizing the reality of such actions and understanding that it will take years to make it happen, if ever, these ideas do nothing to bring about that immediate relief needed by families that are hurting today. And to present these solutions without a clear strategy to bring them to fruition is little more than throwing words at a problem.
As a tea party activist, I believe the greatest attribute of the tea party is that it empowers average everyday Americans to get involved in the political process and to understand that together we really can make a difference. An empowerment that's being undermined by an evolving elitist class within the movement, but that's a story for another day.
I believe that there should be clear, definitive lines between the tea party movement and elected officials and I strongly believe that we the people must stop repeating the same action of sending professional politicians to D.C. and expecting different results. After all, isn't that the definition of insanity?
Insanity that we saw play out with the debt ceiling debacle, where the politicians proved once and for all that they simply will not set aside the politics of personal gain and act on behalf of the better good of this country.
And after yesterday's results, we now a credible option to 'more of the same' - Craig Miller... which makes the citizens of Florida the real winner of the debate.