Friday, May 25, 2018
Politics

Opponents face uphill climb against Fasano for state House

NEW PORT RICHEY — Even those who support Jim Mathieu for the state House 36 seat recognize it's an uphill battle.

"Mike Fasano has the edge," said Bill Bunting, the GOP state committeeman and a bitter foe of Fasano, the term-limited state senator who is looking to return to the state House. Bunting gave $250 to the war chest of Mathieu, a former Port Richey city attorney who serves as vice chairman of the Pasco County Republican Party. Bunting's wife, Ann, also gave $200 to Mathieu.

Mathieu remains confident the race will be close. He points out that it's a closed, winner-take-all GOP primary involving only about 34,000 voters. If turnout is 30 percent, that means about 10,000 voters would decide the next state representative for this west Pasco district. (Mathieu's next-door neighbor, Joseph Verola, filed as a write-in candidate, closing the primary to all but registered Republicans.)

He's counting on help from party loyalists, who are more likely to frown on Fasano's rejection of GOP darling Marco Rubio during the 2010 U.S. Senate campaign. Fasano supported Charlie Crist even when Crist left the party to run as an independent.

A Mathieu mailer criticizes Fasano for that decision and touts Mathieu as "a lifelong conservative who has worked to help elect Republicans to office" and mentions his endorsement by the county's Republican Party.

"About 200 members of the Republican Executive Committee support me," he said.

Fasano called that number "miniscule." He said he's not worried but also not complacent.

"We always work like we're 10 points behind," he said.

If you look at finances, Fasano is crushing Mathieu and his other opponent, Michael D. Kennedy, a Hudson electrician.

State records show he has raised more than $116,000 so far and spent $56,840 on mailers and cable television ads. That pales in comparison to Mathieu's $21,000, which includes a $7,500 loan. Kennedy has raised $450, all from relatives.

Those who know Fasano say the 18-year lawmaker has got a lock on the seat.

"There's no doubt in my mind that Mike's going to win," said Michael Cox, a former County Commissioner and Port Richey City Council member. "I'd say he's got 8,000 votes easy."

Cox, a Democrat, said he at first expected Fasano to be "someone who wouldn't give a Democrat two and half seconds of his time."

But Fasano surprised him.

"He was the first person who called to congratulate me on my win," he said.

Cox said Fasano was a huge help on local issues. He played a major role in helping the county secure $5 million in state aid to lure financial giant T. Rowe Price to the Long Lake Ranch area. He also worked to help the county get a new hurricane shelter in Hudson that bears his name.

"Party labels don't matter when a person is a good public servant," Cox said. "Mike is a good public servant and a good guy."

Fasano is counting on that reputation to get votes from "the little guy and gal" he says he advocates for by fighting rate hikes for private utilities and advance charges to build Progress Energy's nuclear plant or rising homeowners' insurance premiums.

Mathieu and Kennedy said they would also emphasize good constituent service.

Mathieu, an attorney, said he wants to examine bills at a "granular level" to make sure they don't have unintended consequences. He said he wants to read every bill before he votes on it.

That might be easier said than done, said Ben Wilcox, a longtime lobbyist who now represents the League of Women Voters.

"It would take an awful long time," he said. About 9,000 bills and resolutions were filed in the Florida House during the 2012 session, although many of those bills did not make it to the House floor.

Mathieu said he knows that would be difficult, but perhaps the session needs to be longer than 60 days.

"Some states meet for six months," he said. "I would refuse to vote on anything I couldn't read and review."

The platforms of the three candidates lack sharp differences, though they cite different ways to solve problems.

Kennedy stresses his service as a contractor in Afghanistan, where he worked with people from different countries. He said he decided to run after seeing all the partisan bickering on television.

"I thought, I can make people get along," he said.

Kennedy said his top priority is being "pro-life" and he also wants to lower insurance rates "across the board." He said banks should be forced to pay part of a home's insurance premiums based on the equity they hold.

Mathieu said Citizens should never have been allowed to compete with private insurers in the first place and lawmakers should create an "exit strategy."

Fasano said insurance companies shouldn't be allowed to cherry pick and offer only profitable types of policies while refusing to cover homes. He also suggests making Citizens a statewide windstorm pool while allowing private companies to cover other perils.

"I shall continue to be the voice of those who otherwise do not have a seat at the table," he said.

Comments
North Korea demolishes nuclear test site as journalists watch

North Korea demolishes nuclear test site as journalists watch

PUNGGYE-RI, North Korea — North Korean leader Kim Jong Un made good on his promise to demolish his country’s nuclear test site, which was formally closed in a series of huge explosions Thursday as a group of foreign journalists looked on. The explosi...
Published: 05/24/18
Trump violated the Constitution when he blocked his critics on Twitter, a federal judge rules

Trump violated the Constitution when he blocked his critics on Twitter, a federal judge rules

President Donald Trump’s decision to block his Twitter followers for their political views is a violation of the First Amendment, a federal judge ruled Wednesday, saying that Trump’s effort to silence his critics is not permissible under the U.S. Con...
Published: 05/23/18
All those city services that fuel Lightning fever? Team, not taxpayers, foot the bill

All those city services that fuel Lightning fever? Team, not taxpayers, foot the bill

TAMPA — All those public watch parties during the Tampa Bay Lightning’s postseason run? And how about the rally at Joe Chillura Courthouse Square Park with the big white Lightning logo spray-painted on the grass? You need police to prote...
Published: 05/23/18
Romano: A pathetic legacy for Florida’s all-or-nothing Democrats

Romano: A pathetic legacy for Florida’s all-or-nothing Democrats

Explain this to me: In the world of partisan politics, how is being an independent thinker a bad thing? When it comes to general elections, we seem to like rogues and mavericks. We want outsiders and swamp scrubbers. Folks appreciate a good finger-...
Published: 05/22/18
‘World’s most expensive Witch Hunt’: Trump lashes out at New York Times, Democrats

‘World’s most expensive Witch Hunt’: Trump lashes out at New York Times, Democrats

WASHINGTON - President Donald Trump lashed out Sunday at "the World’s most expensive Witch Hunt," trashing a new report in the New York Times that said an emissary representing the governments of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates offered help...
Published: 05/20/18
Obama’s education secretary: Let’s boycott school until gun laws change

Obama’s education secretary: Let’s boycott school until gun laws change

Former Education Secretary Arne Duncan pushed a radical idea on Twitter: Parents should pull their children out of school until elected officials pass stricter gun control laws.His tweet came hours after a shooting rampage at a Houston-area high scho...
Published: 05/20/18
China offers to buy more US products to reduce trade imbalance

China offers to buy more US products to reduce trade imbalance

WASHINGTON - China offered to boost its annual purchases of U.S. products by "at least $200 billion" Friday as two days of talks aimed at averting an open breach between the two countries ended in Washington, a top White House adviser said.Larry Kudl...
Published: 05/19/18
Hillsborough candidate falsified contract for fund-raising gospel concert, lawsuit says

Hillsborough candidate falsified contract for fund-raising gospel concert, lawsuit says

TAMPA — A concert organizer is accusing Hillsborough County Commission candidate Elvis Piggott of falsifying a contract and prompting the headline act to pull out of a gospel show.In a lawsuit filed in Hillsborough Circuit Court, Corey Curry claims h...
Published: 05/18/18
Gina Haspel confirmed as CIA chief despite scrutiny of her role in interrogation program

Gina Haspel confirmed as CIA chief despite scrutiny of her role in interrogation program

WASHINGTON - The Senate voted Thursday to confirm Gina Haspel as the next CIA director after several Democrats were persuaded to support her despite lingering concerns about her role in the brutal interrogation of suspected terrorists captured after ...
Published: 05/17/18
GOP pushes for speedy confirmation vote for CIA nominee

GOP pushes for speedy confirmation vote for CIA nominee

WASHINGTON — Republicans are pushing for a speedy confirmation vote as early as Thursday after the Senate intelligence committee endorsed President Donald Trump’s CIA nominee Gina Haspel to lead the spy agency. But opponents concerned about Haspel’s ...
Published: 05/16/18