Presidential election 2 weeks, 1 debate away

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  • | 12:00 p.m. October 22, 2012
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From left, Bert Ralston, owner at Vox Populi Communications LLC, with Association for Corporate Growth North Florida Chapter President Michael Kirwan and Matthew Corrigan, professor and chair of political science and public administration at the Unive...
From left, Bert Ralston, owner at Vox Populi Communications LLC, with Association for Corporate Growth North Florida Chapter President Michael Kirwan and Matthew Corrigan, professor and chair of political science and public administration at the Unive...
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With 19 days remaining before Election Day, two political professionals said Thursday that incumbent presidents usually have the advantage, but can be beat.

Neither called a winner in the Nov. 6 election, but both talked about the narrowing poll results between President Barack Obama, a Democrat, and Republican challenger Mitt Romney.

Political consultant Bert Ralston, owner of Vox Populi Communications LLC (“vox populi” is Latin for “voice of the people”), and Matthew Corrigan, a professor and chair of political science and public administration at the University of North Florida, didn’t agree on all of their observations.

But both noted that Republican Ronald Reagan unseated incumbent President Jimmy Carter in 1980 and Democrat Bill Clinton defeated President George H.W. Bush in 1992.

Ralston and Corrigan spoke to more than 40 members of the North Florida Chapter of the Association for Corporate Growth on Thursday at The River Club.

Ralston said challengers try to make the race about choice.

“The challenger always seeks to make the race a referendum on the incumbent,” he said.

Meanwhile, he said the incumbent has the bully pulpit by virtue of the job and also has Air Force One not only for travel but to court the invited passengers for support.

Corrigan said it’s difficult to beat an incumbent and said Bush wrongly figured “this guy Clinton will be easy to beat.”

He acknowledged Obama has a tough record. Romney has been challenging particularly the president’s decisions and record with the economy, health care and foreign policy.

“Even with this extraordinarily bad economy, we have a race that is basically even,” Ralston said.

Ralston is a former field representative for the National Republican Congressional Committee and has been involved in races at all levels of government, from municipal to federal, winning 70 percent of the races in which he had an active role.

Among their observations:

• Debates. Corrigan thinks the debate tonight about foreign policy is less important than the first two, unless someone makes a major mistake, because people are not as interested in foreign policy. Ralston believes it will be equally as important because in the first, Romney only had to prove he was capable of holding office and holding his own, and in the second all he had to do was tie. Romney was widely considered the winner of the first debate and both he and Obama are considered to have done well in the second.

• Polling. Ralston said skewed data cheapens the polls and the “incredible amount of polling going on” is “rarely right.” Corrigan, who conducts polls, said data is important “but you have to take it with a grain of salt.” He said cellphones have changed the polling landscape. For example, in a recent UNF poll, those who answered on a landline favored Romney by 13 percentage points and those who answered on a cellphone favored Obama by 13 percentage points. Moreover, he said Florida overall is a tough state to poll.

• What polling does. Ralston said polling affects the candidates’ messages. “There is some poll-tested message in everything they say,” he said. He expects Romney to try to call Obama “a liar or incompetent” about Libya and he expects to “see more language soon about Mitt Romney’s faith.” Romney is Mormon.

• “Certainty.” Corrigan said the “certainty” argument is a good one, “but I haven’t heard a lot of specifics about what that ‘certainty’ should be.” Ralston said his corporate clients can make money “when they know what the rules are going to be.”

• The next president from Florida. Corrigan said former Gov. Jeb Bush or U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, both Republicans. “I would expect one to take the plunge,” he said. He’s writing a book about Bush and calls Rubio “a rising star.” Ralston said it might be 10-15 years before another president is elected from Florida and is looking at Bush’s son and also said to look at Florida Rep. Will Weatherford, a Republican and Jacksonville University graduate.

Aetna signs OK’d

Aetna can post its new violet signs on the Southbank building it occupies. The City approved the three signs –– all lowercase, aetna — on the north, south and east sides of the building at 841 Prudential Drive. The total cost for the three signs was $49,000. The contractor is General Sign Service Corp.

Samsonite building sold for almost $43 million

Global Income Trust, a real estate investment trust, announced it has acquired an 817,632-square-foot distribution center, which is leased to Samsonite LLC, for $42.5 million. The building is on a 53-acre site in the Imeson International Industrial Park in North Jacksonville.

CB Richard Ellis represented the seller and CNL Commercial Real Estate will provide property management services for the building.

The address is 10480 Yeager Road.

Samsonite is a subsidiary of the world’s largest travel luggage company, Samsonite International, S.A. The building was built in 2008 and is leased through February 2018 with two five-year renewal options.

The building serves as the primary North American distribution center for Samsonite.

Samsung continues build-out

The City approved renovations at the new Samsung Electronics America Inc. Westside distribution area for office space and a quality control area to test residential appliances.

Crabtree Construction Co. will handle the $50,617 project.

The Daily Record reported Sept. 24 that Samsung Electronics America Inc. plans to open a Jacksonville warehouse in the Westlake Industrial Park.

Samsung posted a job opening for a Jacksonville warehouse manager who “will manage the dedicated Home Appliance warehouse during the new business launch.”

The City previously approved a permit for build-out within a 400,000-square-foot center at 12400 Presidents Court in the Westlake park, north of Interstate 10 and west of I-295. The $417,194 construction job will be handled by The Conlan Co.

Conventions in town

Visit Jacksonville reports several events are booked this week and early next week, involving more than 300 delegates. They are:

• American Society of Transportation and Logistics, Saturday through Oct. 30, Omni Jacksonville Hotel, 100 delegates.

• Farm Equipment Manufacturers Association, fall convention, Hyatt Regency, Oct. 29-Nov. 2, number of delegates not available.

• Small Market Meetings Conference, Sunday-Oct. 30, Hyatt Regency, 200 delegates.

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