As reported in today's Sunshine State News, former heavyweight champion Jameel McCline's Florida Congressional District 20 McCline for Congress team is facing an unexpected obstacle on the campaign trail, after a recently hired staffer was arrested in a divorce dispute incident. Julie Reiser was charged with burglary after removing items from her ex-husband's house, which she remains on the deed of as co-owner. Reiser was then asked and agreed to tender her resignation from the campaign coordinator job she had held for only a matter of weeks.
The McCline for Congress campaign issued a statement expressing shock and dismay, but also appealing for fairness and compassion. The candidate is quoted as saying:
Our hearts and prayers go out to Julie, and to the children caught up in this ugly, all-too-common domestic dispute mess. Now, we have to let the legal process unfold, and let Julie Reiser have her ‘day in court’...now, we have to move forward on our mission, without missing a beat, to bring a new brand of reality politics, and real progressive achievement, to Florida CD 20, and to the United States House of Representatives.”
When McCline talks about letting someone have their "day in court", he speaks from experience. Born in Harlem NY in 1970, he grew up and aged out of a foster care system that left him without a support system as a teenager. Struggling to survive, he landed in prison by age 18, doing five years hard time for illegal gun possession.
But Jameel McCline's story is one of overcoming obstacles and adversity; learning hard lessons, setting seemingly unreachable goals, and achieving them. After his release from prison, he got a college education, became a professional prizefighter, and had an illustrious Top-10 career, climaxed by winning the combined WBO-NBO Heavyweight Championship.
When he decided to take his "Only in America" story and strong political opinions into the electoral arena, he knew there would be major obstacles to overcome. While the arrest of a campaign staffer wasn't one he was counting on, his track record suggests he's tough enough to surmount almost anything, and keep moving forward. In a new, exclusive-to-Examiner statement today, McCline said:
Our McCline for Congress campaign team won't let this unfortunate situation be a distraction. We're moving forward full steam with our mission, to bring all the constituents of Florida's 20th Congressional District the energy, effectiveness and accountability they deserve from their U.S. House representative.
In recent days, I've talked with way too many residents of the district who feel under-served, and overlooked. Residents in places like Belle Glade, Pahokee and Clewiston are suffering badly from lack of attention and economic opportunities. And that's because too many sitting members of Congress are unwilling to draw attention to them, unwilling to advance innovative, ambitious new initiatives to bring needed change.
If elected, among my first actions will be calling for a congressional investigation to determine how cities like Belle Glade in prosperous districts like Florida's 20th, can go so neglected for so long. And I'll be fighting to take the actions needed to reverse that trend. Such neglect isn't only unfair to the fine, hard-working residents of these areas, it's unfair to the entire district and economy, which would only benefit from turning working poor people who too often need public assistance, into middle-class consumers and taxpayers.
In the weeks and months to come, I'll be introducing a series of boldly progressive proposals for dealing with a range of problems that have gone unaddressed for far too long in Florida CD 20, and across the rest of the state and nation.
We're counting on the public, and the press, to make this race a contest of issues and ideas moving forward, comparing and contrasting the levels of energy, innovation and accountability in the respective candidates, and campaigns."
This is one congressional candidate and campaign that stands a strong chance of registering lots of new voters and activating lots of long-disengaged ones, in communities like Belle Glade, and beyond. If so, Jameel McCline may well be a political long-shot capable of beating the underdog odds, and winning a whole new title come November.