JTL vs The Political Machine, A Retrospective. Parts 1&2 Write in Candidate & Firefighters Union, SLR/IRL



Now that the dust is settling, it is important to study and document the loss dynamics of “Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch for Martin County Commission District 1.” In retrospect, it was a voice for the river grassroots campaign versus a sophisticated political machine. The narrow loss to 16 year incumbent Doug Smith, by only 677 votes or 2.9% makes the retrospective even more interesting!

As there is such a plethora of material, today we will research only parts #1 and #2: The Write in Candidate (WIC), and the Martin County Firefighters Union. In follow-up posts, we will breakdown the influence and monies of the political action committees and their cohorts better known as PACs.


One very effective way the political machine affects a race is by putting in a “write in candidate.” Because of a constitutional amendment brought forward by the voters in 1998, Florida is a “universal primary state,” meaning in a primary election that determines the General Election,  voters of all parties are allowed to vote. But there is one “opinion” loophole that came later: “if a write in candidate (opposition) enters the race, the race becomes closed.”

Write in candidates could be real candidates who at the last minute decide to run, or they can be fake candidates who are put up by the “powers that be” to close the primary race to one party, or for the “benefit” a certain candidate.

This is what happened in the JTL District 1 race. Chase Lurgio, an 18 year old teenager at Jensen Beach High School, who is certainly a not in a position to be a county commissioner, was put up for the benefit of Mr Smith the last days of June. The race had been going on since September the year before.

Who put up this candidate and was he awarded for service? This we may never know, but as we study the players in the arena we begin to get an idea….

If you are interested, all of Chase Largo’s WIC information can be found on the Martin County Supervisor of Elections’ website; also, one can call and request his qualification papers. There is not much to learn as a  write in candidate pays no fee, (“real” county commission candidates are required to pay almost 4,000$ or get 1100 petitions signed to quality); WIC do not have to fundraise, participate in forums, etc.., can be of the same party they close, (as is the case of Chase Lurgio who is a Republican himself like me and Doug Smith); they do not have to put forth a biography…nothing is really required to be a WIC, you just have to be willing to sign up.–they don’t even have to live in the county!

2016 Candidates by name: http://www.martinvotes.com/content.aspx?id=474

To repeat, the JTL Campaign, a loud independent voice for the health of the St Lucie River, a bipartisan issue with broad appeal to all parties was threatening to the political machine and to Doug Smith. So the race was closed by a WIC, disenfranchising  over half the voting population of Martin County (Democrats and Independents.)  Considering the will of the people 1998 constitutional amendment made Florida a universal primary state, this does not seem correct.

Numbers of Martin County Registered Voters: |Republican: 55,015 | Democrat: 27,501 | Other: 26,591 | Total: 109,107

People can change parties but this is a lot to ask, and only a very small population even figure out what is going on. Many voters are furious when they get to the polls and names they expected to vote for are not on the ballot.

Mind you, I have no problem with true write in candidates or closed primaries. However the tactics of Florida’s present system are fraudulent and encourage foul play. The only way to change this is to work against the corruption of WIC fraud and in time get the state constitution changed for either straight closed primaries or open primaries.

In conclusion, as time goes on more and more law suits have arisen regarding WIC and in fact there is a case in the Florida Supreme Court Case pending although one was just determined and the opinion on WICs was upheld. It is the people who must overturn this fraudulent part of our system.

Orlando Sentinel article on WIC: http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/politics/os-write-in-candidate-lawsuit-20160805-story.html

Chase Largo’s Facebook picture has been widely distributed since he signed up to be a WIC



Another factor affecting the JTL race was the Martin County Firefighters Union. The MC Firefighters Union has been at an impasse with the Martin County Commission for raises etc… To overcome this situation, they have regrouped and developed a ruthless union that has raised dues to back candidates that promote their interests.

It is kind of “You scratch my back, I’ll scratch your back” approach. As was quite obvious during the race, where I used my grassroots team, Doug Smith used the firefighters. They put his signs together in the union parking lot and waved signs along with their families on the side of the road in sweltering heat.

They also raised extra money with their union dues to send out a negative post card against me and later made direct phone calls to citizens in my hometown of Sewall’s Point stating untruths.

Their Political Action Committee, Citizens for Public Safety, (PAC) sent out the ad below and by clicking on the link one can see they raised over 100,000 dollars in their PAC to run negative ads against candidates. On average it cost about 15,000$ to send out one postcard.

If you go to the link from the Florida Department of State Division of Elections and enter their PAC “Citizens for Public Safety” into COMMITTEES you will see reporting.

GO HERE TO LOOK UP MC Firefighters’ Citizens for Public Safety or any PAC: http://dos.elections.myflorida.com/campaign-finance/contributions/

The misleading ad they sent out against the JTL Campaign is below. Look closely and you will see “Paid electioneering communication paid for by Citizens for Public Safety”

As I said many times during the course of my campaign, I am forever grateful to the firefighters for saving my life when I broke my neck in 2001, but I find their campaigning for any candidate a total conflict of interest. It will be interesting to see if  Mr. Smith supports their raises in the coming budget cycles. I am also surprised the “Republican” candidate would have such a close relationship with unions.

Hindsight is always 20/20. Hope you learned something today. I certainly have! See you for part 3, Stuart Chamber’s C-PAC in the coming days.


IMG_5289 2.jpg
Postcard sent out by Citizens for Public Safely-MC Firefighters Union
back of card

12 thoughts on “JTL vs The Political Machine, A Retrospective. Parts 1&2 Write in Candidate & Firefighters Union, SLR/IRL

      1. Jacqui,
        Yes, “knowledge” is the answer to that riddle. So in this, we realize we are more powerful. However, I don’t know many people who are as singularly focused in their heart and mind as you are. I firmly believe you will eventually succeed in that which you set your mind to.


  1. Doug Smith did not win one precinct of the eight, which make up the District ONE voting precincts.As a matter of fact he lost the District by a margin of Thurlow-Lippisch 57.6% to Doug Smith 42.4%! I wonder what Chase Austin Lurgio’s reward was for his nonsense. Doug lost his precinct by 920 votes and now we have to put up with him for another four years.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Endorsements from union members whose retirement pay and lifetime health care costs will require higher and higher taxes to subsidize their legacy is stunning.

    Characterizing you as a “tax problem” is, at the very best, total hypocrisy.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. keep on writing

    On Mon, Sep 19, 2016 at 11:53 AM, Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch wrote:

    > Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch posted: ” Now that the dust is settling, it is > important to study the loss dynamics of “Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch for Martin > County Commission District 1.” In retrospect, it was a voice for the river > grassroots campaign versus a sophisticated political mach” >

    Liked by 1 person

  4. First of all we need to see what we can do about the WIC issue. It makes no sense at all. It disenfranchises people. So what can we do about that? As far as the firemen go we are all grateful for out firemen. I spent a lot of time with them when they were working for Ron Rose asking why they would support him and they told me they wanted this training center here in town despite the fact we have a start of art facility in Ft Pierce. So a new facility is a waste of money and that money should go towards a raise. I am nurse. I have not gotten a raise in 6 years lol. When you work in Medicare your lucky its doesn’t go the other way. health insurance? no any benefits no? On nurses day we have a raffle and cupcakes. I’m not angry about that because I love my job. It will be interesting to see if they get what they want. Meanwhile we need to be present at these meetings and watch the BOCC very carefully. Doug won I believe because of dirty politics. That’s bad karma for him. You’ll always have good karma and angels watching over you. I’m with her! I’m reposting this on Treasurecoast.com and let me know you need!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. The firefighters are extremely well organized, and your adversary knew which promises to make. As the incumbent, he had the inside track (i.e. the inside information). Also, I could not agree with you more about the closed primaries in Florida – this needs to change.


  6. I am very happy that you have the resilience to discuss your “defeat.” I believe honest assessment is the best path to future success. It’s also good for your peace of mind. I have a few observations on your recent campaign and also on your evaluation of the campaign as offered on your blog.

    On the WIC: The write in candidate close out provision is even more abusive than you mention. A same-party write in candidate can not only close out an election for all other voters- he can also withdraw from the race prior to the general election- leaving no actual option to the excluded voters. In the past week, four write in candidates in Palm Beach County (all Democrats) did exactly that. Note that Palm Beach County has a strong Democratic majority. The WIC loophole offers an additional layer of protection to incumbents in the dominant party. I believe you would have won by a comfortable margin if all voters had been allowed to vote in a universal primary.

    You describe your campaign as “a loud independent voice for the health of the St Lucie River, a bipartisan issue with broad appeal to all parties was threatening to the political machine.” You have a well-deserved reputation as an advocate for our estuary- and that served you well in your campaign. However, I think this advantage was offset by at least two factors: 1) all candidates claim to be friends of the river in Martin County, and 2) the majority of voters in the Republican Party are not single issue voters. In particular, you were assumed to side with the “slow growth” wing of the Martin County Republican Party. This association meant that you inherited opposition from advocates for the customs facility at Witham Field, advocates for moving the Fairgrounds, and advocates for the various CRA projects. I suspect you can add to this list. The comp plan is complicated- individual projects, not so much.

    I question your assertion that the firefighters “raised dues to back candidates that promote their interests.” My experience is that state and federal laws generally prohibit the use of dues for political activities. Unions often sponsor political action committees (PACs) that promote their interests. The contributions to PACs are usually voluntary and separate from union dues. The contributions may be accomplished through payroll deduction- but they are still voluntary and not part of the dues structure. That quibble aside and speaking as a retired union member- unions exist to promote the self-interest of their members. Doug Smith may be a better investment for firefighters than JTL- LOL.


    1. Martin County fire fighters are special.

      During a decade when others were thrown into unemployment and others saw income reductions or freezes…. Martin County fire fighters saw salaries DOUBLE.


  7. I agree with Jacqui’s definition of the write-in problem but I believe the solution is much simpler than the alternatives she proposed. Simply change the rule to read that a primary can only be closed by a candidate who qualifies to appear on the ballot.


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