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Orlando Sentinel Lauren Ritchie column

By Lauren Ritchie, Orlando Sentinel
McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

July 04--I tried to kill my dog this week.

Oh, not deliberately. Just because The Evil One has a few minor quirks of personality, such as the intense drive to terrify small children and devour them in a single gulp, doesn't mean a death sentence is in order.

Instead, it was the heat.

After a painful encounter with rowdy border collies that resulted in back surgery in 2010, your local columnist has become as obsessive about walking 3 miles a day as herding dog Lola is about sheep. For those wondering, this falls in the category of "life-altering obsessive."

Lola, at 61/2 , is the companion of my wanderings, the one tugging to walk faster and faster. We're on a mission! Go! (Don't ask me what it is.)

What her human failed to take into account earlier this week was her summer haircut. As an Australian shepherd, Lola has long hair, far longer than mine, and a thick double coat that provides insulation. She gives the hair on her backside a sassy shake as she trots down the road, nose in the air, drinking in the smells. She owns the world. Who knew that butt hair could be a fashion accessory?

This summer, however, she continued to pant in the house all night, despite the air conditioning. So out came the clippers, off came the hair. Lola turned into a dog totally comfy in 76 degrees -- but not so great out walking briskly when the temperature is in the mid-90s.

My daughter Eleanor, Lola and I were only about a third of a mile from the car when Lola's back quarters started wiggling and swaying in a way that didn't look right. Eleanor remarked that the dog was walking funny, and then Lola's legs went out from under her. Splat. In true Lola fashion, she looked annoyed, not overcome by heat.

We rushed the dog home, cooled her with the hose and installed her on the couch, snout perched gently on a pillow. And there she stayed all evening.

OK, I admit it: I'm an idiot. No more midday excursions for Lola. We'll save our walks for the cooler evenings.

Here's a rarity

For the first time in several years, Republican manipulators of democracy didn't get a "stooge" to register as a write-in for an important race. This time, it was the State House District 31 race. That means all voters, not just Republicans, get to choose the person who represents them in the Legislature.

The way Florida's primary system works is that only those registered in a particular party may help choose that party's nominee for any given elected office -- but there's a big "if" attached to that. If the opposing party doesn't field any candidates, then everyone gets to vote.

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The idea makes a lot of sense. After all, if only Republicans are in the race, then a Republican already has won by definition. Opening the primary is in the spirit of democracy.

However, the snarkiest of Republicans have gone against the spirit of that law by getting a person who has no intention of campaigning or serving to sign on as a write-in. That closes the primary. Take, for example, the 2010 County Commission race between Sean Parks and Elaine Renick, both Republicans. Only Republicans could vote in the race in which Parks beat incumbent Renick, a longtime environmentalist. If everyone could have voted, that race may have had a different outcome.

The open primary might make some difference in the House race, too.

Likely it would give an edge to Belita "B" Grassel, who as a retired school-union leader would be the obvious candidate to pick up some independent and Democratic votes. But moderate Republican Randy Glisson, a chiropractor whose father served in the Legislature for a decade and ran unsuccessfully for lieutenant governor in 1978, may stand to gain a few votes, too. Either of them would do a good job.

The candidates it probably will hurt are ultraconservative Jennifer Sullivan, a 23-year-old woman uneducated beyond home schooling, and Joseph Stephens, a conspiracy theorist who says he thinks that the media are trying to force Americans into communism. Stephens is too far out for most people to consider, and Sullivan must get more experience in life and in governance before asking voters to trust her with such an important office.

And what about the well-funded, polished insurance executive Terri Seefeldt of Apopka? Those last two words should leave Lake County residents giving her candidacy a lot of thought. This district covers all of north Lake County and dips south to take in a little bit of Orange. Lake hasn't exactly been the darling of the Legislature. Consider that this county is 66th of 67 counties in school funding. Would someone who doesn't live in Lake throw her entire political capital into changing that?

It's early days in the campaign yet. Let's see what specifics each of these folks has to offer voters here.

Lritchie@tribune.com. Lauren invites you to send her a friend request on Facebook at facebook.com/laurenonlake.

___

(c)2014 The Orlando Sentinel (Orlando, Fla.)

Visit The Orlando Sentinel (Orlando, Fla.) at www.OrlandoSentinel.com

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Distributed by MCT Information Services

Wordcount:864


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