Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Michael Scionti could be a Democratic Charlie Crist

U.S. Army Reserve, Captain; Judge Advocate General, Military Intelligence, 2000-present; Bronze Star Medal; Army Commendation Medal; Expeditionary/Service Medals-Iraq, Afghanistan; Global War on Terrorism; Presidential Unit Citation

A future governor? Look no further than West Tampa writes Wayne Garcia.

"You've got to look at the bigger picture to see how you will navigate through the smaller ones," he said. "I chose to put myself at the bargaining table rather than be on the sidelines."
--Michael Scionti, Democratic whip

Pragmatic doesn't even begin to describe this 38-year-old son of one of Hillsborough's legendary Democratic Party chiefs, Mike Scionti, and a nephew of former Florida Senator Louis De La Parte. While some observers and even colleagues were displeased with his vote, he got his seat at the budget table. He walked away from it with, among other things, $1 million for a stormwater project in Tampa's Drew Park neighborhood, $350,000 to help restore the 93-year-old Centro Asturiano building and another $350,000 to help developmentally disabled adults in Hillsborough.

"I told [the Republican leaders] that I had stuck my neck out on the tax vote," so I was owed something in return, he said.

Scionti tells this story at a meeting of the West Tampa Chamber of Commerce, a small gathering in the heart of his district, where he is greeted as something like a favorite son. Hillsborough School Board member Jack Lamb reacts: "Best to be at the table because you could be on the menu."

Scionti could be a Democratic Charlie Crist. Ambitious, grandson of immigrants and always calculating the political gains and losses. Scionti goes further: His military career and a wife, Zsuzsanna.

Scionti and Crist have different core values, but Scionti could follow in Crist's footsteps if the political wind in Florida keeps changing the way it has over the past two years.

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