BY FLORIDA COURIER STAFF
Pam Keith, a former naval officer, is on a mission to become the first Black woman in Florida to become a U.S. senator. However, she believes her campaign is being derailed because of “blatant racism and sexism.’’
In a statement on Tuesday, she blasted an Orlando TV station for not including her in an Aug. 12 Democratic primary debate.
Keith, who has never run for public office, is vying for a seat currently occupied by Senator Marco Rubio, the former Republican presidential contender who announced last month he will run again for the seat he was elected to in 2010.
Her primary opponents are U.S. Reps. Alan Grayson and Patrick Murphy, who have been embroiled in a messy battle. Other Democratic contenders are former assistant U.S. attorney Reginald Luster of Jacksonville and real estate developer Roque “Rocky’’ De La Fuente of Orlando.
The winner of the Aug. 30 primary will face the Republican contender on Nov. 8.
‘Offense and disgrace’
According to WFTV Channel 9, the ABC station Grayson and Murphy agreed to sit down and answer key questions on the issues that impact Central Florida.
In a statement to the Florida Courier on Tuesday, Keith stated, “The idea of a news outlet reaching “agreement” with two candidates to exclude one of their opponents from a debate is, in an of itself, obscene. Media outlets must never allow themselves to become extensions of political campaigns or to be used to advance political objectives. It cheapens the media’s role in informing the public.’’
Keith continued, “But in this case, the collusion is even more distasteful because of the blatant racism and sexism involved therein. Not only have they colluded to keep me out of this debate, but to keep all candidates of color out of the debate. As disrespectful as that is to the candidates themselves, it is an utter debasement of voters of color.’’
The candidate further stated that “WFTV wants to ensure that all voters, but especially women, African American and Hispanic voters, remain ignorant of any candidates other than the two wealthy white men they seek to promote. It is an offense and disgrace. People of color make up more than half of the Democratic electorate, and women are more than 50% of the vote. To treat those voters, who may have a particular interest in a woman candidate or candidates of color, as inconsequential is beyond belief.’’
WFTV has stated that Grayson and Murphy were invited to the debate because they were the only two candidates with at least 15 percent in statewide polls. The station said Tuesday that the other candidates now will be invited to do three-minute segment “to communicate their stance on the issues to the people of Central Florida.”
Grayson and Murphy have made national headlines over their campaign drama.
A U.S. House Committee on Ethics has found there is “substantial reason to believe” Grayson violated House rules and federal law in connection with his offshore hedge fund and other actions in office.
Grayson accused Murphy of colluding with the House ethics panel and Murphy has “disqualified himself from being a public servant.’’
And this week, Grayson’s ex-wife accused him of domestic violence, showing the media documents that allege she repeatedly went to the police with accusations of abuse.
Murphy has caught flak for citing that he has been a certified public accountant for years. A Politico report last month notes that his CPA licensure records show he has worked as a practicing CPA for less than a year.
Murphy also has touted himself as a small businessman who owned an environmental services company when, in fact, it’s owned by his father.
Veteran, attorney, mentor
Keith said she decided to run for Senate after watching Rubio’s GOP response to the 2013 State of the Union address.
She thought to herself, “I could do a better job.’’
Keith, the daughter of Kenton Keith, a Navy officer and U.S. diplomat, has traveled around the world.
Born in Turkey she has lived in Morocco and Syria. She moved to the United States with her mother and lived in California and Kentucky.
After graduating from Boston College Law School, she joined the Navy, serving as a judge advocate in Norfolk, Va., then Bahrain, in the Persian Gulf.
In 1999, she joined Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, a Washington, D.C. law firm. She also worked in other law firms around the country.
In 2011, she accepted a job as in-house counsel for NextEra Energy, the parent company for FPL.
She resides in Palm Beach County, where she is a member of Leadership Palm Beach County; on the board of directors of Faith, Hope, Love, Charity, Inc., a non-profit that serves homeless and at-risk veterans; and a volunteer mentor at the Boys and Girls Club of Riviera Beach. Keith also is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.
For details on her campaign positions, visit pamkeithforsenate2016.com.