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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

For these Republican candidates, offshore drilling is taboo



The special election to replace the late C.W. Bill Young in Congress in widely seen as a bellwether for the national political mood in 2014. But this Pinellas County, so when it comes for offshore drilling the Republican field is anything but a bellwether for national GOP's drill, baby, drill sentiments.

"Offshore oil drilling - I am proud to support the current ban of 230 miles. I don't think we need any encroachment. The current ban I believe exists until 2022. That is something I believe we should maintain," David Jolly declared at a Tampa Bay Beaches Chamber of Commerce forum this morning, calling his opposition to offshore drilling one of the four central planks of his platform."

When someone in the audience said they heard he had lobbied on behalf of oil-drilling interests, Jolly called it "a complete fabrication."

State Rep. Kathleen Peters echoed his anti-drilling sentiments: "Absolutely no. I am not pro-oil drilling."

Airline pilot Mark Bircher was less definitive and has previously said he needed to research the issue more.

Another point of the forum that stood out was Peters describing her activism in fighting so-called "Hometown Democracy" ballot initiative that would have given voters veto authority over comprehensive growth plan changes.

"I went out and in four months I did more than 70 presentations, debates, and interviews to make sure that that constitutional amendment did not pass," Peters said. "No it wasn't my job. I didn't have to do it but I knew if that became a state constitution that Florida's economy would be reeling."

Peters works for the Clearwater Regional Chamber of Commerce, which aggressively opposed the Hometown Democracy initiative. So Peters was pretty much doing her job with all those speeches and interviews.

[Last modified: Monday, January 6, 2014 4:13pm]


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