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The staff of the Tampa Bay Times

District 47 candidates face off at Tiger Bay

The candidates in the race for the District 47 state House seat squared off at a Tiger Bay meeting in Tampa on Friday. Republican Kevin Ambler is term-limited out of the post. The race has only one Democrat: attorney Michael Steinberg. Five Republicans are vying for the post: Retired Verizon executive Irene Guy (who repeatedly referred to her work for the company as "advocating" rather than lobbying); attorney James Grant; former Hillsborough County Commissioner Brian Blair; business owner Tom Aderhold; and Rich Reidy, a legislative aide to County Commissioner Ken Hagan.

The most heated exchange in the generally low-key forum surrounded the topic of allowing gay couples to adopt children. The five Republicans all said they believe children are best raised by a mother and father. Steinberg, though, earned applause when he said the state should repeal the law that forbids gay couples from adopting. He likened the ban to a policy in place when he first started practicing law that kept mixed-race couples from having custody of children in divorce cases. That prompted Grant to ask the group to waive the rules so he could comment a second time on the topic.

“To make the analogy between interracial marriage and raising a child in a homosexual family is absolutely outrageous,” Grant began. But when he started talking about the difference in values the two scenarios represent, he was cut off.

Grant was also in the spotlight when an audience member asked him to reconcile his call for smaller government, a centerpiece of Grant's campaign, with a bill passed by the Republican-led Legislature that would force all women seeking an abortion in early pregnancy to view an ultrasound and hear a description of the embryo. Grant has repeatedly said that too many government officials believe they can tell people how best to raise their children and spend their money.

"If life begins at conception I have no greater right to take that life than I have to take your life," Grant answered. “That baby has the right to live the same as you and I do.” The bill, he said, provides women with information vital to making a decision about abortion.

Janet Zink, Times Staff Writer

[Last modified: Thursday, September 16, 2010 3:39pm]


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