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The Buzz

From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

New ad hits Southerland on fishery issues



Ocean Champions is back for another shot at Rep. Steve Southerland, with plans to run this TV ad in Panama City for two weeks.

The spot, released early to the Buzz, asserts that Republican Southerland would let "Washington bureaucrats," in the words of local fishing guide Billy Archer, "manage local fisheries."

"I'm voting for more jobs and against Steve Southerland," Archer says in the hotly contested race (polling the group released showed Graham with a slight lead; see below).

Archer has ties to Gwen Graham, the Democrat running against Southerland. On Memorial Day she did a "work day" aboard one of his fishing boats and later lamented a shortened Red Snapper season.

Southerland has also criticized the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council's decision to shrink the seaston to 9 days from 40. And Southerland has introduced legislation that would prevent federal restrictions on fishing.

"Rep. Steve Southerland advocates for adding a provision to the Commerce-Justice-Science appropriations bill that would prevent even considering so-called limited access privilege programs, or catch shares—even if local fishermen want them,"  Ocean Champions said in a sheet backing up the ad.

A Southerland spokesman said he was trying to prevent additional "catch share" regulations, not change those already in place.

"Radical environmentalists can pour all the special interest money into this race that they want, but fishermen who know Steve won't take their bait.  As an avid outdoorsman, Steve has fought against the crippling Washington regulations that are forcing our fishermen off the water and out of business.  Gwen Graham, on the other hand, stood before the same Gulf Council that reduced our red snapper season to nine days and told them they are 'doing a great job.' " The Graham campaign notes that comment was made before the season was shortened (background here).

The ad is to run for two weeks in Panama City at a cost of $35,000, according to Bob Doyle, who is affiliated with the Democratic-aligned Ocean Champions.

It is the second ad the group has run agaisnt Southerland. It has also purchesed billboards in Panama City that state: "Big time Steve Southerland, he's left Panama City in his rear view mirror."

The group also paid for polling that showed Graham with a 45-43 lead over Southerland and 11 percent of voters undecided. The text below is from a polling memo:

"This is clear evidence of the race trending in Graham’s favor – in a survey conducted in April of this year, Southerland held a comfortable lead over Graham (49% Southerland / 39% Graham)," reads a polling memo. "That survey was conducted toward the end of significant media buy from Republican affiliated groups. Graham has now completely erased the Republican advantage created by that spending. Graham currently leads Southerland by +21 percentage points in the Tallahassee market (55% Graham / 34% Southerland) and trails Southerland by -26 percentage points in the Panama City market (31% Graham / 57% Southerland). This reflects a net increase in support for Graham of +8 and +17 respectively, compared to April. This dramatic shift in support in Panama City coincides with a sizable media buy by Ocean Champions in that market."

It goes on: "Undecided voters appear ready to break toward Graham. Undecided voters in the Congressional race are less Republican in registration than the electorate as a whole, and lean toward Charlie Crist over Rick Scott in the governor’s race. Forty percent (40%) of undecided voters would prefer someone new representing them in Congress, compared to only 12% of undecided voters who say they would prefer to see Southerland re-elected."

"Southerland is “upside down” on several of the key indicators that measure an incumbent’s strength. Southerland’s job rating is net negative (42% positive / 47% negative). In fact, his positive job rating is only slightly higher than that of President Obama’s (37% positive). A majority of likely voters say they would prefer to see someone new representing them in Congress rather than re-elect Steve Southerland (39% re-elect Southerland – 54% someone new)."

The poll was conducted by Pathfinder Opinion Research among likely November 2014 General Election voters in Florida’s 2nd Congressional District. Telephone interviewing was conducted April 22-24, 2014 and August 11-12, 2014 utilizing live interviewers and a voter list sample containing landline and cell phone numbers. The sample size for both surveys is n=500 with a margin of sampling error of +/- 4.4% at the 95% level of confidence.

[Last modified: Thursday, August 14, 2014 7:59am]


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