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The staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Last minute signs about tolls on Howard Frankland Bridge pop up in Senate race between Brandes and Frishe



 A last minute push to sway primary voters’ minds in the competitive Senate District 22 race between Republicans Jim Frishe and Jeff Brandes has resulted in the Tampa Bay area being blanketed with yet another batch of campaign signs.

The signs, which seemed to pop up almost overnight in both Hillsborough and Pinellas counties, seek to link Brandes to an idea floated earlier this spring by the Florida Department of Transportation about eventually turning the Howard Frankland Bridge into a toll road when it’s rebuilt 10 years from now.


“Stop tolls for Howard Frankland Stop Brandes,” the signs, which Frishe’s campaign approved and paid for, say in red and white block lettering.

Brandes has stressed during his campaign that he’ll come up with innovative solutions to Tampa Bay’s transportation problems.

But he said Frishe’s ad is misleading. He said he has never supported turning the whole bridge into a toll road.

Brandes said he does support having tolling as an option for express lanes if those ever were to be added to the bridge.

“I would say (the signs) are bizarre and frankly a little desperate,” Brandes told the Tampa Bay Times. “There will always be free options for the Howard Frankland as long as I’m in the legislature.”

The race between Frishe and Brandes for the district that covers south Pinellas and South Tampa has been extremely competitive. The winner will be decided in today’s primary because Democrats failed to field a candidate.

Both men are sitting House members and amassed sizable war chests from outside groups to flood airwaves, stuff mailboxes and plant campaign signs on lawns.

Frishe said his volunteers planted the toll signs over the past three days.

“There’s probably 30- or 40,000 cars a day that cross the Howard Frankland,” he said. “That’s an interstate highway and we need to keep that toll free."

[Last modified: Tuesday, August 14, 2012 2:07pm]


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