Life and politics from the Sunshine State's best city

Steve Schale: Dear Donald Trump press corps: Welcome to my house

in 2017/Top Headlines by

Dear Traveling Trump Press Corps:

Well, the sputtering, crashing, and long-since derailed Trump Train is headed to my town, Tallahassee.

I, for one, will admit it, I cannot believe how badly he and his shop are at campaigning. Take all of the personal flaws of Donald Trump aside; I really believed he would rise to the occasion of running a campaign at least somewhat worthy of the office he seeks.

Back in 2008, when one of my staff would do something mind-numbingly amateur, rather than yell at them, I would walk up, give them a little pep talk about decision-making process, and leave a sticky note saying: “FYI, We are running for President,” just to remind them of the stakes.

I feel like the GOP should send one of these to Trump daily.

Over the general election, he’s spent some time in some pretty bizarre places in Florida for a candidate who is making absolutely no attempt to appeal outside of his base.

It is one thing to go into the other side’s turf when you are trying to reach their voters, but he’s not. Yet he’s still spent time in places like Miami Beach and Kissimmee, two places about as Democratic as any in Florida.

Well, come Tuesday, add a third: Tallahassee.

The old saying about Florida is to go south, you go north.

Well, while Tallahassee is much more “Southern” than the rest of Florida, just like all Southern states, Tallahassee is that liberal college town that drives the rest of the conservative areas crazy.

It is also the place where the college footballing team that has beaten #FloridaMan Chuck Todd‘s Miami squad seven straight years resides, but I digress.

It is also a place where many great national reporters have spent time. In fact, the recent past president Carol Lee and the incoming president of the WHCA Margaret Talev did a stint here, as did Mike Bender, who I think still has a house here if you need a couch to surf. In fact, I think having Tallahassee experience is a job requirement at The Wall Street Journal. POLITICO’s Marc Caputo also lived here for a while, but we don’t talk about that as much.

Just how Democratic is Leon County?

The last time we voted for Republican for president was 1988, but before you Republicans get all excited about that, Bush won 66 of 67 counties. It was such a landslide that even Broward voted Republican.

That isn’t gonna happen.

Looking at more recent history:

Leon County has voted Democratic in the last six elections.

In the last four, the Republican candidate has won 41 percent of the two-party vote in Leon County, but when you add minor party candidates, no Republican has cracked 40 percent.

The total Democratic margin of victory over that time is 125,000 votes. Only four counties in Florida have delivered a bigger margin for the Democratic nominee over that time: Orange, Palm Beach, Broward, and Dade.

Further, if you look at the nine Florida counties that have voted for every Democratic nominee for president since 2000, two of them border Leon County.

And even when you add all of the rural areas in the media market, the market overall has voted for the Democratic candidate each of the last four times (and I think it is each of the last six). A region that voted for John Kerry isn’t voting for Trump.

But alas, for those media who are on the Trump traveling train, I am happy you are here. For those of you not on the charter, I hope you also enjoyed visiting our northern airport terminal, Atlanta International. As they say about Tallahassee, you can’t die and go to heaven or hell without a layover in Atlanta — and probably with a delay.

And here are a couple of thoughts:

Both GrassLands Brewing Co. and Proof Brewing are open Tuesday. If you need a beer after the rally, both make a fine product. If you are looking for good local craft beer Monday, try Growler Country. They aren’t selling ambience, but unlike the Trump rally, they have amazingly good beer.

In fact, speaking of beer, on Saturday the rally location was home to a big craft beer festival. Yes, that was a happier time.

Momo’s Pizza sells pizza as big as your head, if you are looking to protect yourself from rally-goers. There is better pizza in town, but their stuff is still good, and frankly, you have to see it to believe it.

It was also ranked one of top college town pizza joints in the country. They also make a really good craft beer.

Right across the street from the rally is a great little farm-to-table place called Backwoods Crossing. Since you’ve seen the speech a billion times, head over for dinner. You won’t be disappointed.

Tuesday afternoon, head over to Mo Betta BBQ. It is more food truck than restaurant, but you will enjoy it.

If drinking multiple bottles of wine is more your coping style, Clusters and Hops has a great wine store and restaurant. It is my favorite place in town, and it is close to Hotel Duval, where all you Marriott points chasers will probably stay. My good friend, and well-known #NeverTrumper Rick Wilson also has a nice wine collection, but sadly, he is out of town. And trust me, there is no one, and I mean no one, more disappointed to miss this one than Rick.

If you are at the Doubletree, Aloft, or Governor’s Inn, Avenue Eat & Drink has a nice dinner (or Uber to Clusters).

Downtown, there also are two excellent locally owned coffee shops: Goodies and Brewd Awakening. And there is a great pho place downtown. Yes, you read that right, great pho in Tallahassee: Fat Noodle.

Want to go for a run? Hit up Cascades Park and run the new pedestrian bridge toward FAMU and FSU. Not only is it a beautiful run, it is one of the few flat places in town. We are the southernmost reaches of the Appalachian Mountains, so our hills are quite a shock to those more accustomed to running around the National Mall.

If you want more ideas, call Rick. I know you all have his number.

Otherwise, have fun. It is a great old Southern town, with really nice people — and people who are overwhelmingly going to vote for Hillary Clinton!

Fifteen more days. America can do anything for 15 days, right?


Your Tallahassee Sherpa,


Latest from 2017

Go to Top