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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 8/26/10

US primaries: Millionaire candidates, right-wing politics and few voters

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In August 1990, Karla Miller and her husband Mark came to the hospital after she went into labor at just 23 weeks and complications placed her life in danger. With the fetus not expected to survive, the couple asked doctors at the hospital not to take any extraordinary measures that could cause the newborn pain.

The hospital overrode these wishes, however, and the infant survived. Suffering brain damage, cerebral palsy, blindness and seizures, the child required constant care. Having run out of insurance money for her care, the family sued the hospital corporation for failing to ask the parents' consent before treating the newborn. A jury awarded the family $43 million in expenses and damages, but Columbia/HCA, on Scott's orders, appealed the verdict, managing to overturn it in a higher court.

Scott, incredibly, claimed that by denying the family money to care for their child, he had proved himself a "pro-life leader."

"We continued the case because I believed in the sanctity of life," he told the Miami Herald. Pressed by the newspaper about the details of the case, Scott responded, "I can't remember back. I don't know, it was so long ago."

The family denounced Scott for exploiting "our daughter's misfortune," while pointing out that the case had "absolutely nothing to do with abortion."

Selective amnesia is a consistent trait in the Republican primary winner. He similarly claimed inability to remember deals that led to the criminal prosecution of Columbia/HCA for the largest Medicare fraud case in US history. The company was forced to pay out $1.7 billion in civil and criminal fines, and Scott himself was compelled to step down as CEO, but not before collecting a $10 million severance package and $300 million in stock options.

Scott reportedly spent up to $50 million of this money -- 15 times as much as McCollum -- effectively buying the Republican nomination.

In the November election, Scott will be facing Democrat Alex Sink, Florida's chief financial officer. Sink, who is married to prominent Florida attorney and the state's Democratic gubernatorial candidate in 2002, Bill McBride, was previously the president of Florida operations at Bank of America.

In that position, she oversaw a merger with the local NationsBank-Barnett, resulting in the wiping out of an estimated 6,000 jobs. While presiding over these mass layoffs, Sink garnered nearly $9 million in salary and bonuses over a three-year period. The Republicans have run one TV spot highlighting this record and employing the catch-phrase "Not one of US." Given the similar class background of the party's nominee, however, she most certainly is.

In the race for the Senate seat being vacated by Florida Republican Senator Mel Martinez (who is giving up his office to become a senior executive at JPMorgan Chase) Miami-area congressman Kendrick Meek defeated Palm Beach billionaire Jeff Greene.

Meek, a former state trooper, inherited his seat in Congress from his mother, who retired from the US Congress in 2003. He has run unopposed in each of four congressional elections.

Meek has been implicated in multiple scandals, including his lobbying for Boston developer Dennis Stackhouse, who provided the congressman's mother with a free Cadillac and office space as well as tens of thousands of dollars in consulting fees before being arrested for misappropriation of over $1 million in public funds. During his earlier career in the Florida state legislature, Meek continued to work for the Wackenhut Corp., which also hired his wife and mother as lobbyists, failing to recuse himself from votes on contracts with the private security firm.

Meek's rival for the Democratic nomination, Jeff Greene, cast himself as an "outsider" while spending tens of millions of dollars of his own money in his failed bid to buy the Senate seat. Forbes, put Greene's net worth at $1.4 billion, a fortune made off of speculation in credit default swaps that paid off thanks to the misery of millions of people who lost their homes in the sub-prime mortgage meltdown.

The Republican nominee for Senator is Marco Rubio, a Cuban-American politician, who was the speaker of the Florida House of Representatives. Having been touted by the media as the potential "first Tea Party senator," Rubio failed to utter the words "Tea Party" in his acceptance speech Tuesday.

Running against him is not only Meek, but also Florida Governor Charlie Crist, who left the Republican Party to rebrand himself as an Independent rather than face probable defeat in the primary. He has been leading both the Democratic and the Republican candidate in the polls.

Primaries were also held Tuesday in Vermont and Oklahoma. In Vermont, three elected state officials faced off in the Democratic gubernatorial primary, with state Senate President Pro Tem Peter Shumlin claiming victory by a bare 190-vote margin. Lt. Gov. Brian Dubie ran unopposed for the Republican nomination.

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Bill Van Auken (born 1950) is a politician and activist for the Socialist Equality Party and was a presidential candidate in the U.S. election of 2004, announcing his candidacy on January 27, 2004. His running mate was Jim Lawrence. He came in 15th (more...)
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