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Brandes is "ideologically extreme" McLauchlan tells Dems



Recently-announced District 22 State Senate candidate Judithanne McLauchlan addressed a roomful of Democrats last night in Pinellas Park, where she explained why she's signed up for what will likely be one of the most expensive and competitive local races of 2014.

"For me, it's not about Jeff Brandes, but it's about our families, it's about our communities and it's really about the future of Florida," she told the Greater Pinellas Democratic Club.

Except of course it is about Brandes.

In 2012, at the end of his first term as a state representative, he ran for the D22 seat, winning an expensive and nasty Republican primary that decided the race, as no Democrat filed to challenge him. On Election Day, McLauchlan, for lack of a candidate who came close to her own views, wrote in her husband’s name (Ramsay McLauchlan is the former president of the Pinellas County Democratic Party).

"I thought, we just cannot let him go unchallenged," she said, describing her Republican opponent as "ideologically extreme."

She went on: "I'll just tell you why I’m frustrated. He was the one vote, the one vote in the Florida Senate against Medicaid expansion. And I believe that is unconscionable. I don't know how he can sleep at night, being that vote that denied one million hard-working Floridians the ability to get access to healthcare."

A political science professor at USF St. Petersburg, McLauchlan said on Thursday night that besides healthcare and jobs, Florida’s education policies and funding will be central issues in her campaign. She also plans to campaign on transportation issues.

The same year that her and Brandes’ names will be on the ballot, Pinellas voters will be asked to decide whether to add a penny to the sales tax to pay for expanded bus service and light rail. Though quite a few Republican elected officials support the plan, Brandes has been a staunch opponent. McLauchlan said she supports the proposal.

Last year, the District 22 race was one of the most-watched in the state and it’s likely to be again in 2014. Two-thirds of the district is in Pinellas and one third in Hillsborough, where it includes much of South Tampa.

[Last modified: Friday, November 15, 2013 1:44pm]


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