Sunday, November 19, 2017
Politics

Brandes, Frishe hunting for votes in St. Petersburg

RECOMMENDED READING


ST. PETERSBURG — The battle for a state Senate seat in St. Petersburg plays out every weekend amid the sounds of lawn mowers and barking dogs.

Separated by a couple of miles, Republicans Jeff Brandes and Jim Frishe knocked on doors Saturday in search of votes in a newly drawn district where the turnout will be low and the stakes are high. Every vote counts.

The two House members' styles were on display, but voters weren't too accommodating. Many weren't home. The few who were seemed polite but reserved.

Brandes, 36, and Frishe, 62, are walking in Senate District 22, which includes South Pinellas and part of Tampa. One will succeed Sen. Dennis Jones, who is retiring due to term limits.

Frishe, in a long-sleeved white dress shirt, gray slacks and black wing tips, parked his Honda Accord on Bayou Grande Boulevard and went to work with a list of households with Republicans who reliably vote in primaries.

At the first four houses in Precinct 144 (Brandes' current House district), no one answered. At each, Frishe left a leaflet highlighting his experience, with a handwritten "Sorry I missed you" note and a letter from a local Republican leader, Eileen Blackmer of Shore Acres, which noted in italics that Mayor Bill Foster, Sen. Jack Latvala and Jones all support Frishe.

"I know the system. I don't see that as a negative," Frishe told one woman at her door after dodging an electrical cord.

A few more houses and sweat began trickling down Frishe's face. He soon was wiping his brow as much as James Shields at a Tampa Bay Rays game.

It rankles Frishe that some House GOP colleagues are helping Brandes. Frishe attributes it to his arm-twisting job as House majority whip.

"I'm not incapable of rubbing people the wrong way," Frishe said as he crossed the street.

Undaunted, he shook the hand of a man with a Brandes sign firmly planted in his front yard. The voter, Tim Flanagan, said he did it for a friend, and seemed to admire Frishe's spunk. "You've got my vote," said Flanagan, promising to plant a Frishe sign, too.

Nearby, in St. Pete's Old Northeast section, Brandes went hunting for votes, armed with a list of GOP voters who vote by mail or absentee ballot.

His brochure, larger and bolder than Frishe's, included a "return your absentee ballot" reminder, with detailed instructions.

Dressed for comfort, Brandes wore a "Jeff Brandes for Senate" T-shirt, shorts and sneakers.

Like Frishe, Brandes walked alone. But as a member of the Cox Lumber family, Brandes can pay dozens of workers who also walk door-to-door. He says he pays up to 30 workers, but no more than 10 or 15 at any time.

Brandes beat Democratic Rep. Bill Heller two years ago and said he wants to become a senator because that's where the real action is in Tallahassee, and there's lots wrong with the status quo there.

At a house on 25th Avenue, a Dalmatian welcomed Brandes loudly. Its owner listened politely as Brandes talked of going to local schools and serving in the Army in Iraq.

Walking precincts is one more element of a campaign, along with yard signs, TV ads, mailers, phone banks and the rest, he said.

"It's building that layered approach," Brandes said.

Comments
As clock ticks on tax bill, White House signals a compromise

As clock ticks on tax bill, White House signals a compromise

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump’s budget director, Mick Mulvaney, said Sunday that the White House is willing to remove a contentious provision taking aim at the Affordable Care Act from the GOP tax overhaul plan if politically necessary, a move ...
Updated: 5 hours ago

Many Christian conservatives are backing Alabama’s Roy Moore

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Alabama’s Christian conservatives see Roy Moore as their champion. He has battled federal judges and castigated liberals, big government, gun control, Muslims, homosexuality and anything else that doesn’t fit the evangelical mold. ...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Senate ethics, relatively silent, could face busy year

Senate ethics, relatively silent, could face busy year

WASHINGTON — It’s been nearly six years since the Senate Ethics Committee conducted a major investigation of a sitting senator. Next year, the panel could be working nonstop, deciding the fate of up to three lawmakers, including two facing allegation...
Published: 11/18/17
Hillsborough seeks payback for ethics complaint but history shows that could be pricey

Hillsborough seeks payback for ethics complaint but history shows that could be pricey

TAMPA — Hillsborough County commissioners recently decided to go after the pocketbooks of several residents who filed unsuccessful ethics complaints against one of their colleagues.If history is any indicator, the maneuver is more likely to cost taxp...
Updated: 5 hours ago
In struggling upstate New York cities, refugees vital to rebirth

In struggling upstate New York cities, refugees vital to rebirth

UTICA, N.Y.Pat Marino pulled into the shop on a cold, wet Thursday and stood close as a young mechanic with gelled-up hair and earrings lifted the truck and ducked underneath."You need a little bit more oil," the mechanic said."Five quarts wasn’t eno...
Published: 11/17/17
Updated: 11/18/17
As sex scandals topple the powerful: Why not Trump?

As sex scandals topple the powerful: Why not Trump?

WASHINGTON — "You can do anything," Donald Trump once boasted, speaking of groping and kissing unsuspecting women. Maybe he could, but not everyone can. The man who openly bragged about grabbing women’s private parts — but denied he really did so — w...
Published: 11/17/17
Allegations against Alabama’s Roy Moore dividing GOP women

Allegations against Alabama’s Roy Moore dividing GOP women

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Standing on the white marble steps of Alabama’s Capitol, Kayla Moore surrounded herself with two dozen other women Friday to defend husband Roy Moore against accusations of sexual misconduct that are dividing Republicans, and women...
Published: 11/17/17
Franken apologizes to woman who says he kissed, groped her

Franken apologizes to woman who says he kissed, groped her

WASHINGTON — Minnesota Sen. Al Franken personally apologized to the woman who has accused him of forcibly kissing her and groping her during a 2006 USO tour, saying he remembers their encounter differently but is "ashamed that my actions ruined that ...
Published: 11/17/17
Negative mailers trace back to campaign of state House candidate who denies them

Negative mailers trace back to campaign of state House candidate who denies them

An 87-year-old widow from Melbourne, a mysterious direct mail company in tiny Buffalo, Wyo., and a tangled web of political committees all were linked to the onslaught of negative mailers that helped Lawrence McClure win the Republican primary in Pla...
Published: 11/17/17

10,000 more FBI records unsealed from JFK assassination files

DALLAS — Yet again, the National Archives released a trove of records from the Kennedy assassination files on a Friday afternoon, another strange stream of loose ends, dead ends and tangents with little apparent connection to the assassination of the...
Published: 11/17/17