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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Busansky & Bilirakis: Together at last



    The District 9 candidates were finally face-to-face. Phyllis Busansky & Gus Bilirakis made a joint appearance at WEDU’s studio on Saturday morning to tape their first (and only) debate. (slated to air 8:30 pm on Tuesday) And while it seems unlikely they will be making lunch plans any time soon, both were decidedly cordial. There were even rumors of some light chit-chat before the cameras started rolling.  Yet as they turned from Iraq to immigration and Medicare-D, it was impossible to miss the stark differences in their politics and rhetorical styles. When property insurance came up, the polite vibe turned tense.
    “I am amazed at the legislature, a legislature that my opponent sat in for 8 years, really could not do anything,” Busansky said. "And I’m amazed at my opponent did not do anything either."
    Bilirakis said he had sponsored a bill that would have reduced rates by making sinkhole coverage optional.“ Unfortunately, the Senate didn’t pick it up,” he said. “Right now the legislature is looking at this. We should have done it last session, but I’m only one person.”
    Busansky pounced. “You’re not only one person,” she said. “You’re in a Republican legislature – a Republican house, a Republican Senate with a Republican governor…You’re a force if you want to be.”
    There was no huge gotcha moment, but at one point Busansky whipped out a royal blue strip of nylon and the talk turned to dog leashes.  Dangling her prop, she challenged Bilirakis to justify running a tv spot attacking her support for $1 fees on dog leashes.  (See ad and Busansky’s response here) Evelyn Bilirakis, who was on-hand with Rep. Mike Bilirakis to lend support, gave high marks to her son, for whom the debate marked a career first.

[Last modified: Wednesday, September 15, 2010 11:35am]


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