Florida Democratic Candidate Criticized for Choose Life License Plate

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jun 29, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Florida Democratic Candidate Criticized for Choose Life License Plate

by Paul Nowak
LifeNews.com Staff Writer
June 29, 2004

Palm Beach, FL (LifeNews.com) — Joy Hearn never thought her support of adoption would be an issue in her campaign for the local county property appraiser’s position. However, Florida Democratic Party leaders are making her "Choose Life" license plate an issue — to the point of denying her support unless she removes the plate from her car.

Hearn, a registered Democrat running for a non-partisan position that cannot make policy issues, was shocked by the news.

She told LifeNews.com that, at her first Democratic Party meeting, she was not allowed to speak. One of the party leaders told her that he could raise money for her, but only if she took the "Choose Life" plate off her car.

When Hearn said she supported adoption, the party leader said that was not the issue.

"He said ‘That’s not what his is about. It has to come off the car,’" Hearn said.

Hearn held her ground, and was contacted by the party again by phone later, urging her to "really think about it," as her having the plate was a "very serious issue."

Despite the pressure to remove the plate, Hearn has made it clear she will not take it off, even if it means the loss of financial support and votes from a "large voting bloc."

"Whether you take the plate off or keep it on, you’re still pro-life," Hearn told LifeNews.com.

Some Democrats in the state are unhappy with the news.

"It is unfortunate that those who hold the power in the Democratic Party feel they have the right to strong arm Democratic candidates who have pro-life convictions into compromising their values in order to get the support of the party," said Valerie Mierzwa, Secretary and Treasurer of Florida Democrats for Life.

Mierzwa said Hearn should be congratulated on "her refusal to compromise her personal values."

"She has demonstrated that she is a person of great moral conviction and courage … a quality that one would certainly desire in a Property Appraiser," added Mierzwa.

Mierzwa also highlighted the apparent hypocrisy on the part of Democratic Party leaders as their 2000 platform spoke of inclusion and tolerance to differing views, including abortion.

"[W] we also recognize that members of our party have deeply held and sometimes differing views on issues of personal conscience like abortion and capital punishment," states the national party platform.

"We view this diversity of views as a source of strength, not as a sign of weakness, and we welcome into our ranks all Americans who may hold differing positions on these and other issues," the platform reads. "Recognizing that tolerance is a virtue, we are committed to resolving our differences in a spirit of civility, hope and mutual respect."

Party politics and policy issues are highly unusual in a race for a position such as property appraiser, and Hearn suspects her opponents are using her license plate against her for lack of other negative information on her campaign. The duties and power of the property appraiser for Palm Beach County are regulated by the State of Florida’s Revenue Department, and has nothing to do with making policy on issues.

Hearn told LifeNews.com that she firmly believes that the individuals from the Democratic Party that told her to remove the plate "had my political best interests at heart."

"However, I have to be honest and true to my beliefs especially when my tag has no bearing on this office, as it is an administrative office making no policy," Hearn added.

Ten states currently have "Choose Life" plates on residents’ cars: Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Hawaii, Arkansas, Connecticut, Maryland, and Louisiana, and Montana. It is estimated some 40,000 plates have been sold nationwide.

Nationally, the tags have raised some $2.6 million to help pay for adoption services, health care and other expenses for pregnant women considering abortion, and other abortion alternatives.

Florida’s sales alone have made up over $2 million of that money, and according to the FL DMV, the "Choose Life" plates were the #9 top selling specialty plates of 89 in that state in the past 12 months.

Tennessee and South Carolina have approved "Choose Life" plates, but have not yet made them available to motorists.

The local Democratic Party’s treatment of Hearn is hardly in line with the Party’s platform, but it is in line with the national party’s ostracizing of pro-life Democrats, despite estimates that 43 percent of the Party’s members are pro-life.

Catholic League president William Donohue says pro-life Democrats, as well as the Democrats for Life national organization, continues to be "shunned — even mocked — by the Democratic National Committee."

"In vain have they [Democrats for Life] tried to get the Democratic National Committee (DNC) to provide a link on its website to their organization," Donohue explained.

"But the DNC has no problem providing a link to a notoriously anti-Catholic group, Catholics for a Free Choice. The passion for abortion rights is so extreme in the Democratic Party that it will bond with bigots who share its position before ever working with decent men and women of their party who differ with them on this issue."

This has left pro-life Democrats "politically homeless," Donohue says.

Joy Hearn Campaign Contact info:
Campaign of Joy Hearn, PO Box 33626, Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33420-3626, 561-691-4330