October 22, 2014

Icon

Icon: Kenneth H. 'Buddy' MacKay

Governor, 1998-99; lieutenant gov., 1992-98; U.S. congressman, 1983-89; state senator, 1974-80; Born 1933, Lives in Marion County

Cynthia Barnett | 3/1/2010
» I tend to try to explain things when you shouldn't. People used to say I was like a dentist trying to explain a root canal.

» When I was in the Air Force, I wrote to the supervisor of elections in Ocala and asked for documents to register as a Republican. She sent me the paperwork to register as a Democrat. I called to inform her of the mistake, and she said: 'If you register Republican, you will embarrass your entire family.' This is how I became a Democrat.

» Florida at one time in its history really developed a consensus.

Kenneth H.
Kenneth H. "Buddy" MacKay? [Photo: Jeffrey Camp]

» A generation or two of young people who served in the military left Florida, went all over the world and had a chance to see how Florida looked from a different perspective: Very insular, very Southern, still fighting the Civil War, backward and proud of it. The consensus was not only in the political community, but in the financial and business and legal community. We didn't want to be the laughingstock of the nation. We wanted for Florida to be part of the new America that was coming into being.

» Sometimes changing your position on an issue is not a sign that you lack integrity but a sign that you have integrity.

» I was never the Florida Farm Bureau's favorite. They were behind the bumper stickers, 'Senator MacKay, please don't draft our daughters,' and I'm still not sure how the Equal Rights Amendment was an agricultural issue. The irony was that I was more involved in actual agricultural production than any other member of the Florida Legislature. At that time I was the only farmer in the Legislature.

» When you see so much going into citizen initiatives and ballot initiatives, that is a sign of a lack of confidence in the Legislature — a feeling the Legislature is not reflecting our interests, but that of vested interests. That's not good because when people take matters into their own hands, they may or may not be very well-informed.

» My work on the Cross Florida Barge Canal caused some strange reactions in Washington, since people in Congress are supposed to bring things to their district — not get rid of them. I got several lectures on whether I understood what being a congressman was all about.

» Connie Mack is a very decent guy. His concept of the issues was very different from mine, but he at least had a concept, and he served as a very serious member of the U.S. Senate.

» Single-issue politics and ideological politics are destroying this country.

» For the first time in quite awhile I find myself sympathetic to Crist. From a policy standpoint, he's advocating what Florida needs, which is less ideological and more consensus-based leadership. Of course, I support Kendrick Meek. He's my former security guard and a very close friend. And he may have a better shot against Rubio.

» I was with Steel, Hector & Davis, and I saw what was going on. People were coming to that law firm, a major law firm, and basically saying, 'This is what it's going to cost you to have access.' I was infuriated. I went to see Lawton, and he was also furious.

» Lawton Chiles was an improbable combination of King Arthur and Don Quixote. His walk across Florida and his defeat of Big Tobacco were times when he beat the windmills. He did more to help Florida's kids than any other governor.

» My most disastrous mistake was to select a professional campaign manager from outside Florida. I didn't insist that the unique character of my campaigns and Lawton's campaigns be carried forward. And as a result, the insiders who'd provided all this energy, all volunteers, they were walled away from me. By the time I finally got to the point when I said, 'I can't stand this,' it was too late.

» I'm not trying to blame my disaster on Bill Clinton. He went to great lengths to try to help. But timing-wise, it couldn't have been worse.

» Anne and I were in Boston and we had a day off, which we desperately needed. We went to the Boston Museum of Art, a Claude Monet exhibit. It turned out that the Massachusetts State Police had been out searching for us all afternoon. The whole world had changed, and I had become governor. It was not at all a pleasant flight back to Florida.

» The idea that you can campaign grassroots is not a realistic idea. So you find yourself having to literally take weeks and months off and do nothing but call people on the phone for money, which has got to be one of the most disillusioning things you can do. Askew, to his credit, said I'm not going to do that. I tried to do it, and the conflict I felt made me a very poor candidate. I ended up very depressed.

» I believe our democracy is self-correcting and that at some point there will be a scandal or a disaster or a technological change that corrects the system.

» There may be a great surprise ending. The internet is fundamentally anarchistic. It's designed to keep anyone from being able to control anything. So it may be that what Lawton was trying to achieve and what I was trying to achieve and what McCain-Feingold was trying to achieve will work out in a way nobody dreamed of.

Tags: Politics & Law, Florida Icon, Government/Politics & Law

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