The Florida Professional Firefighters shook off its Republican Red past and endorsed John Kerry yesterday. The Associated Press reports that the organization, 19,000 members strong, supported President Bush in 2000 and his brother, Jeb, in two gubernatorial elections. Why the change of heart? "'The FPF proudly endorses John Kerry for President because he shares our vision of a safe and strong America,' said Bob Carver, President of the FPF. 'There is no stronger voice on firefighter and Homeland Security issues than John Kerry, and we will work hard to help him win the state of Florida.
"'Kerry has consistently championed legislation to provide our members with the right to collective bargaining and to improve funding and increase the number of America's firefighters, our training and to provide us with the equipment first responders need to serve the people of America in defense of our homeland in an emergency, natural disaster, or, God forbid, in the event of another terrorist attack.'
"Kerry has had the enthusiastic support of the International Association of Fire Fighters, AFL-CIO/CLC, at the national level since early in the Democratic primary campaign. The IAFF, which represents 265,000 professional firefighters and emergency response personnel in every state in the nation, was the first union to endorse Kerry for President and has become a fixture on the campaign trail with their gold and black 'Fire Fighters for Kerry/Edwards' signs and shirts." One endorsement might not be enough to swing the election, but in Florida, every change of heart helps.