By Larry Blustein
Chris Williams never considered himself a huge political fan. In fact, while he has voted in every election since 1988, the Hollywood resident never did a lot of research on many of the candidates and issues. That has changed.
At the age 43, Williams is now more in tune to what is happening in Tallahassee and Washington D.C. than ever before, and it took one of those moments to really change direction.
"It was Barak Obama," Williams recalled. "When he was running for office, I really had never heard of him before. I was embarrassed - because while I am not the most ardent political follower, you would think that I would know someone who is running for president. That really changed me."
Because so much is changing around us - rising health care costs and an economy that has not come close to coming back after the recession - everyone needs to be aware of who is calling the shots in the political world.
Over the past week, Williams and so many others who do not want to be blindsided again - with a candidate that literally comes out of nowhere - have been paying attention to a 2016 election that will be interesting, crowded and starts out with no real clear-cut winner to inherit what is being left - good or bad - by this administration.
Last weekend, days after Republican Rand Paul announced that it was time for a change in direction in Washington, the much-anticipated and expected announcement that Hillary Clinton throwing her name into a what is soon to be a rapidly growing Democratic race was made.
Then, almost on que, a day later, the Republican Party, energetic 43-year-old Miami native Marco Rubio got his name into what will also see the list grow - which is almost a given.
While there will be plenty of candidates to take key votes away from every candidate, third is going to be an election that could come down to things - maybe one or two things - that may sway a vote or two - which will make a difference in this competitive group.
While those who follow politics - knowing the way people feel now - and have felt for decades - believe that Clinton and Florida Governor Jeb Bush, who will follow his brother and father, come in as favorites to battle for Washington, but others feel differently, thinking that there are too many people with diverse thinking.
"I look at this upcoming presidential race as someone slipping up during the campaign - with an issue that may not affect some, but really hits home to others," Natalia Curtis of Dania Beach said. "Take Hillary, I think the very fact that she and Obama went at it in 2008, pointing fingers and then all of a sudden are best friends shows there may not be a lot of sincerity, there."
"In Rubio, you have someone who is energetic, but also does not believe in gay marriages, legalizing marijuana or what's going on in Cuba," Curtis added.
Sticking points like the Cuban issue which many felt was a huge gamble by Obama, can work against Rubio and others who have their feelings on that issue.
Mary Moreno Adelson is a 29-year-old Cuban, who has sided with what Obama implemented - even going as far as to meet Castro. By perhaps not continuing to support the effort after this administration is gone, could cause friction.
"Everyone hates what Castro has done over the decades," Moreno-Adelson said. "It is horrible and without comprehension, but many of us still have families who exist there, and if we continue to let this go, many of our parents and grandparents will never visit or see relatives again."
No matter what issue - and everyone of the candidates - have things that many do not agree with - this is going to be a real war that will have the attention directly on politics.
Senator Rubio of Florida urged voters on Monday to make a "generational choice" for new leadership that is not mired in the policies of the past.
Rubio presented himself as a fresh face who could find new approaches needed for the United States to solve its challenges and compete in a global economy, and criticized Clinton as a leader stuck in "yesterday."
By now, everyone locally knows that Rubio is a son of Cuban immigrants who rode the anti-establishment Tea Party wave of 2010 to national prominence, said voters could not choose leaders who were stuck in the ideas of the past.
"Yesterday is over, and we are never going back," he said. "We Americans are proud of our history, but our country has always been about the future."
CLINTON IS READY FOR THE CHALLENGE
When you have a race that hangs on an issue or a belief, it is always beneficial for any candidate to deflect - and as she follows her husband, and in many ways herself, into a political ride that will certainly take many crazy turns, Hillary is up for the challenging.
While many of us are going to be ready for the questions that she will dance around, it is part of the process. As a private citizen, Clinton flew on private jets to lucrative speaking engagements. As a Democratic presidential candidate, she is logging her first 1,000 miles in a GMC van nicknamed "Scooby."
Clinton's decision to drive, rather than fly, 16 hours to her first campaign appearance in Iowa set off a scramble by national media outlets to track her down one day after she announced her second White House bid through an online video.
She was spotted at a gas station in Pennsylvania on Sunday. On Monday, a local TV station in Toledo, Ohio, reported that she ordered the chicken bowl with guacamole at a nearby Chipotle restaurant.
Outside Chicago, media trucks staked out a quiet residential block in suburban Park Ridge with hopes that Clinton might stop by her childhood home.
We already know that the Republican Party has Ted Cruz, Paul and Rubio - but we can also expect Bush, and even Scott Walker (Wisconsin), Chris Christie (New Jersey Governor), Mike Huckabee (Former Arkansas Governor), Rick Santorum (Former US Senator), Rick Perry (Former Texas Governor), Bobby Jindal (Louisiana Governor), Carly Fiorina (Former Business Executive) and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson.
Clinton should be opposed by Martin O'Malley (Former Maryland Governor), Jim Webb (Former US Senator) and former Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee. Two stronger candidates - Vice President Joe Biden and US Senator Elizabeth Warren are not running.