Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Pinellas House candidates trade jabs one day after primary victories

ST. PETERSBURG — Less than 24 hours after winning their Pinellas primary elections, candidates in two state House races came to a debate Wednesday and pledged to run civil campaigns.

But before the hourlong debate was up, House District 67 candidate Steve Sarnoff questioned his opponent Chris Latvala's leadership ability. That prompted Latvala to jab back, saying Sarnoff had failed to stand up to questionable doings in his own party.

Wednesday's exchange at the Suncoast Tiger Bay Club in St. Petersburg made one thing clear: Primary elections are history and candidates already are blasting forward into general election mode.

As far as campaign advertising goes, expect another round of local mailings and television commercials, and expect them early because of the increasing popularity of mail-in voting.

In the Pinellas County primary elections that ended this week, only 22 percent of the 149,272 people who voted in the primaries showed up at polling places on Tuesday. About 76.6 percent voted by mail, and 1.2 percent voted at early-voting sites, according to unofficial results.

The next round of fliers hitting local voters' mailboxes will likely come by the end of September, because mail ballots will be sent out at roughly that time.

At Wednesday's Tiger Bay forum, Latvala and Sarnoff campaigned for the District 67 legislative seat that covers portions of Clearwater and Largo. Chris Sprowls and Carl Zimmermann campaigned for House District 65, which covers Palm Harbor, Tarpon Springs and Dunedin.

Latvala, 32, said he was more interested in serving as a state representative for the district than he was in ascending into the House Republican leadership.

Sarnoff, 61, a Democrat, looked at him and said, "Chris, I believe you that you have no aspiration for leadership." Sarnoff acknowledged to a reporter later that he was questioning Latvala's leadership ability. He said Latvala would not have been nearly so successful in campaign fundraising without help from his father, state Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater. He also questioned Latvala's life experience, saying, "He's never had to work two jobs to make ends meet. … He hasn't had to struggle too much."

Latvala said the jab prompted him to ask a pointed question about Sarnoff's leadership. He noted that 19 local officials wrote a letter criticizing Pinellas County's Democratic chairman earlier this year for telling a St. Petersburg pastor he would be "persona non grata" if he ran for Congress.

"One of the names missing from that letter was my opponent. If he can't stand up to his own Democratic chairman, how in the heck can he stand up for us in Tallahassee?" Latvala said.

Sarnoff had no time left to respond, but told a reporter later that he wanted to add his name to the letter, but wasn't eligible because it was only for elected officials.

Zimmermann, 63, a Democrat in a Republican-leaning district, said he was expecting a barrage of negative advertising against him. "I know I'm going to get hit by a baseball bat," he said. Sprowls, 30, quipped that he had no bat with him.

Zimmermann said his approach is to evaluate new bills in the House based on what's good and bad about them, not taking a blind party-line approach.

Candidates took a multitude of questions from Tiger Bay members. Latvala and Sprowls described themselves as prolife candidates, while Sarnoff and Zimmermann said they had no plans to place additional restrictions on women's right to choose whether to have abortions.

Kim Black, former president of the Pinellas teachers' union, asked Latvala, Sarnoff and Sprowls about charter schools. Latvala and Sprowls both said there should be plenty of options for students, but Sprowls stressed there should be accountability to make sure charter schools are performing up to standards, and Lat­vala said charter school students should have to take standardized tests if they are required of public students.

Pinellas House candidates trade jabs one day after primary victories 08/27/14 [Last modified: Wednesday, August 27, 2014 11:00pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Rays DFA Danny Farquhar to make room for Brad Boxberger

    Blogs

    The Rays continued shuffling their bullpen, dumping RHP Danny Farquhar after Wednesday's game to make room for RHP Brad Boxberger to be activated off the DL.

    Farquhar, who worked an inning in Wednesday's 6-2 loss, had a 2-2, 4.11 record for 37 appearances, working primarily in lower leverage situations. In …

  2. USF to face Indiana in men's basketball next season

    College

    The USF men's basketball team will get an early test from a Big Ten powerhouse next season.

  3. Rays employee helps save suicidal woman near Pirates stadium

    Blogs

    A Rays front-office employee joined umpire John Tumpane in saving a woman threatening to jump from a bridge near PNC Park on Wednesday afternoon in Pittsburgh.

    Multimedia production manager Mike Weinman, 32, was walking across the Roberto Clemente Bridge with Rays broadcasting director Larry McCabe when he …

  4. Blake Snell struggles in return as Rays fall to Pirates

    The Heater

    PITTSBURGH

    Blake Snell talked a good game ahead of his return to the Rays rotation Wednesday night, but he didn't pitch one.

    The Pirates’ David Freese scores on a Blake Snell wild pitch during the first inning against the Rays.
  5. College World Series title puts Florida Gators in elite company

    College

    The Florida Gators put themselves in rare company with Tuesday night's College World Series national championship victory.

    Florida ace and Tampa native Alex Faedo (21) lets loose with his teammates after they win the Gators’ first baseball national title.