Mitchell lobs attack on District 47 primary opponent
Political newcomer Christopher Mitchell launched an attack this week on Michael Steinberg, his opponent in the 2010 Democratic primary for the District 47 Florida House seat. In a news release, Mitchell calls attention to a lawsuit Steinberg filed against the United States for damages because he incurred travel expenses to get to Washington, D.C. to pick up a ticket to President Barack Obama's inauguration but couldn't get into the event. Steinberg's suit claims the Joint Congressional Committee for Inaugural ceremonies had a contractual obligation to admit him to the inauguration since he met the requirements of going to D.C. to get the tickets. The suit was recently dismissed.
Mitchell wants to know how much the complaint cost taxpayers, and why Steinberg didn't disclose the suit. "He should have known that this case would come up as a part of Republican opposition research. This is the sort of thing that becomes the subject of unfair attack ads," Mitchell said in his statement. "I am disappointed that Michael has placed the Democratic Party and my campaign in this situation."
Steinberg, former chairman of the Hillsborough County Democratic Party, says the suit cost taxpayers very little, and he wasn't really concerned about getting back the $1,500 he spent to get to D.C. and pick up his tickets from Congressman Gus Bilirakis (a Republican, by the way). It was more a matter of principle. "I was one of the thousands of people who did not get in," Steinberg said. "We felt that the joint committee should have done something other than say, 'Gee, we're sorry. Too bad.' " Steinberg said he also wants to make sure the committee doesn't make the same mistake again. He plans to file an appeal.
As for Mitchell's attack, Steinberg said this: "They say if you're an underdog you have to engage in negative campaigning to bring up your chances of winning." He said he prefers to focus on the issues. "This thing is a non-issue."
Janet Zink, Times Staff Writer