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Breaking It Down | Paula Dockery

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Breaking It Down | Paula Dockery

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Breaking It Down
Wednesday, August 15, 2012 — Paula Dockery

I’m very excited about a new opportunity that has come my way. Starting this week and lasting through the end of the 2012 election season, I will be joining the ABC Action News team in Tampa as a political analyst.
This endeavor allows me to combine two of my loves — politics and talking.
The political bug bit me early.  First it was with student government at Coral Springs High School. That was followed by the Student Senate at my alma mater, the University of Florida, where I earned a BA in Political Science and an MA in Mass Communications, once again combining my loves of politics and communicating.
It was not my intention to run for office, but to be a political consultant. In May of 1996, I found myself a reluctant candidate determined to prove that Florida House District 64 could be won by a Republican for the first time.
As term limits end my 16-year stint in the Florida Legislature, I’ve been given two opportunities to put my mass communications degree to good use. The first was to pen this weekly column for Florida Voices, which I have found both challenging and rewarding.
The second is to join newscaster Brendan McLaughlin. With Tampa Bay in the spotlight for the Republican National Convention and the highly competitive races taking place here, this will be the hotbed of political activity. It is my intention to provide an insider’s perspective to the races, having walked in the candidate’s shoes and having served with many of those running.  
It’s been my style to steer clear of regurgitating the talking points and to instead call it as I see it without regard to political correctness. There are so many back stories to each of these races that offer a glimpse into the inner sanctum of power politics. I hope time permits us to explore some in depth.
The convention is the main event. Being there with press credentials is an interesting twist for a sitting state senator, but one I will relish. 
This won’t be my first convention. That occurred in 1988 in New Orleans, when I was a young aspiring political operative. It also happened to be my first date with a wonderful man whom I married a year later.
I remember the convention vividly. My favorite president, Ronald Reagan, was, sadly, leaving office and George H.W. Bush and Dan Quayle were being nominated. As Reagan finished his speech, tears were streaming down my face, not wanting this wonderful leader to leave office. And I got goosebumps when Lee Greenwood took the stage and sang “God Bless the USA.” The mood of the hall was electrified with an overwhelming sense of pride and patriotism. It is one of my fondest memories.
My second convention was in San Diego in 1996, the year I became a reluctant but successful candidate for the state House. We left for California in the midst of the campaign to see U.S. Sen. Bob Dole and his VP pick, Jack Kemp, accept the GOP nomination.
Now in 2012, with the convention in my legislative backyard, I’ll be attending the convention that coincides with the end of my time in the legislature. Each convention I attend seems to mark a significant event in my personal or professional life.
Many thanks to ABC Action News for the opportunity to offer my analysis, perspective and opinion for all of the important campaign events – primary election, Republican convention, Democratic convention, presidential debates and the general election on Nov. 6.
I hope to bring a fresh, honest and frank perspective to the 85 days that are left in the election cycle and to make sense of the campaigns for those who don’t live and breathe politics.
This life-long Republican is looking forward to sharing the “big tent” republican perspective that Ronald Reagan espoused in that moving speech at my first convention.
Paula Dockery is a term-limited Republican senator from Lakeland who is chronicling her final year in the Florida Senate. She can be reached at [email protected].

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