Monday, May 05, 2008

Roberts Quits, Bryan Running for Congress

2006 Democratic congressional candidate Joe Roberts has announced that he is dropping out of the Democratic congressional race for 2008, according to Rick Outzen's blog at Pensacola's Independent News.

The Daily News out of Fort Walton Beach also mentioned late last month that Roberts recently "changed his party affiliation to Independent." The News-Herald of Panama City quotes Roberts as saying, "By doing this I’ve just pretty much dropped out of the race for the U.S. Congress."

The reason given, according to Outzen, is that Roberts and the Democratic Women's Club parted ways, apparently none too amicably, over Roberts' anti-abortion stance. Explains Outzen, "The women’s club opposed him because its members staunchly support pro-choice on the abortion issue."

That leaves for the moment only Jim Bryan of Laurel Hill (Okaloosa County) in the Democratic race to oust incumbent Rep. Jeff Miller (R-Chumuckla).

According to Tom McLaughlin of the Daily News, "by virtue of his American Indian heritage" Bryan "claims to have family ties to the area going back 4,000 years." By the looks of some of the pictures he's posted on his own proto-campaign web site, Bryan might be that old all by himself.

But here's the thing. He's nowhere as old as many of the poorly-scanned photos on his own web site make him look. (The above photo is one of the few exceptions.)

Jim Bryan was born October 6, 1947. He's only 60 years old, a spring chicken compared with most congress-persons.

The thing is, he's been getting mostly the silent treatment from the Democratic Party, local king makers like Buzz Richey, and the press. Everyone has largely ignored him. The man told us today that he has all of $112 in his campaign bank account -- what's left, apparently, from a loan he took out personally to pay the candidate filing fee.

His proto-web site is strictly a volunteer effort by one local supporter. He does not even have a campaign chairman or finance director yet.

"The press thinks I'm just an uneducated country bumpkin," he said today during a lengthy phone conversation. In fact, after speaking with him we can report that he is well educated (University of Georgia, the University of Maryland and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University), widely read, highly informed about the issues, and far more articulate than Joe Roberts ever was.

Jim Bryan looks like the real deal to us. He was born in Walton County, Florida, and joined the military at the age of 19 where he became a paratrooper. He's a much-decorated Vietnam war veteran (Silver Star, Bronze Star, three purple hearts, and countless other medals). Later, he became a nuclear technician. Bryan retired from the military in 1985 due to a lung disability likely caused, or certainly aggravated, by exposure to CS gas during his service in Vietnam.

After retiring from the military he entered upon a second career as owner for ten years of an Arizona trucking firm before selling it and returning to Northwest Florida to be close to family. He has two step children by his wife, Rhonda, and they are in the process of adopting a third child.

We asked Bryan how he felt about the Iraq War. "I don't like it when anyone says anything against our military," he answered. "They're doing the best they can. But I always felt that we had Iraq contained and isolated. Bush should have let the IAEA and weapons inspectors do their jobs."

What about abortion, the issue that drove Roberts out of the campaign? Bryan mentioned that he is a devout Christian who feels "everyone must bear their own sins and it's no one else's business to interfere with that. That's all I'm ever going to say about the subject."

What inspired him to run for Congress? He says it was Alberto Gonzalez, the now-disgraced former U.S. Attorney General.

"When I read what Gonzales' wrote for Bush, defending torture and what we were doing at Guantanamo, and then saw the dead silence all across the nation I just had to do something," he says. "I believe in the Bill of Rights and the freedoms that all of our military men and women have fought and died for over the many years. When we start torturing others, we put our own soldiers at risk and make a mockery of all that the United States stands for."

There's no doubt that Bryan faces a steep uphill battle. In 2006, as the Democratic Party candidate Roberts drew barely 31.5% of all votes for Congress in this district. While not hard to improve upon in this election cycle, to have a realistic chance of beating the incumbent Republican, he'll need to get his campaign going strong very soon.


Chris Olson said...

"What about abortion, the issue that drove Roberts out of the campaign? Bryan mentioned that he is a devout Christian who feels "everyone must bear their own sins and it's no one else's business to interfere with that. That's all I'm ever going to say about the subject.""

So Bryan thinks god should punish you for having an abortion, but the state shouldn't? That kind of wishy-washy answer isn't going to fly in his district.

lehman in navarre said...

Why wishy washy? Isn't he saying it is up to each person? I thought that's what most women believe.

Chris Olson said...

"Isn't he saying it is up to each person?"

That is what he's saying, but why would you be for something if you don't believe in it?

That just tells me he doesn't have any convictions.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Bryant has made a point of letting all the Democratic groups in the area know that he is solidly pro choice. That was his justification in asking that they support him over Roberts, and it worked. Now that he actually has to run for office, he is trying to hide behind a very thin smokescreen and dupe voters into voting for him. No wonder he has no support. At least Roberts was honest about where he stood on issues. said...

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