The Possum Festival in the tiny Florida Panhandle town of Wausau used to be a must-attend for statewide candidates, who bid for the right to hold a possum by the tail.
With a shout of "Come on, big guy, let's get going," Republican Congressman Steve Southerland grabbed a marsupial by the tail Saturday and held it high over his head to the delight of hundreds gathered for the annual Possum Festival in this tiny Panhandle town. A few minutes earlier, his Democratic opponent, Gwen Graham, bid $800 for the opportunity to do the same. She was joined by her father, former governor and ex-Sen. Bob Graham.
But missing were Republican Gov. Rick Scott and his Democratic challenger, former Gov. Charlie Crist. And Attorney General Pam Bondi also chose not to go. In fact, the only statewide candidate who attended the event was Democrat George Sheldon, who hopes to unseat Bondi.
What is usually a must-attend event for statewide candidates was notably lacking of them this year, perhaps because candidates who now raise tens of millions of dollars focus more on television ads than making personal contact.
It's a far cry from years past. Scott and Crist have both attended in the past, as has former Gov. Jeb Bush and other statewide candidates. The braver candidates even eat a plate of possum and taters.