Friday, November 17, 2017
Politics

Six things to know about Pinellas congressional race

RECOMMENDED READING


With the Republican primary over, the real race to succeed the late Republican U.S. Rep. C.W. Bill Young is on.

Republican David Jolly is facing Democrat Alex Sink and Libertarian Lucas Overby in the March 11 special election. Here's a look at a few issues in the big money race, which will flood airwaves and mailboxes in the next two months:

Washington

Jolly and Sink seem determined to Washingtonize each other.

It was striking that after Jolly won the Republican primary last Tuesday, he told supporters:

"Pinellas County has picked a Republican candidate in this race. The Washington establishment has picked a Democrat. My opponent wants to win this race for Washington, D.C. I want to win this race for Pinellas County."

True, Pinellas Republican voters picked their candidate by voting in a primary, and Democratic voters didn't — not after Democratic candidate Jessica Ehrlich vanished and cleared the field for Sink.

But Jolly, 41, built a career in Washington, first as a longtime aide to Rep. Young, and then as a lawyer, consultant and lobbyist. Florida Democratic Party news releases make it sound like "Washington Lobbyist" is Jolly's first name.

Jolly can be expected to hammer Sink for a different geographic issue. Sink, 65, a former Florida chief financial officer who was the Democratic nominee for governor in 2010, moved from Hillsborough to a rented condo in Pinellas to run for Congress. Moving was not a legal requirement but practically speaking, a political one.

Environment

This won't be the most hotly contested issue in this race, but it might be an interesting point of contrast.

Consider the issue of rising sea levels, a byproduct of climate change. Sink early on said it was worth discussing in the campaign. Jolly said in a debate earlier this month that he doesn't "see a role for the federal government" on the issue.

Both candidates oppose oil drilling off Florida's Gulf Coast, but Jolly supports increased drilling elsewhere. He also was listed as a lobbyist on an oil drilling bill. But he — and the company that hired him — said he didn't actually lobby on the matter, but was required to list it because the subject came up during a meeting he attended while lobbying on something else.

Social Security

This is Florida, this is Pinellas County and this is the 13th Congressional District, where 27 percent of voters are 66 or older. Meanwhile, the program's long-term financial health is in question.

So take it for granted both will pledge to protect Social Security, but then what? It's an issue the candidates must elaborate on during the campaign. Jolly already has said current workers must continue to receive the Social Security they have been promised. The government must recognize its long-term obligations and come up with a plan for paying them, like any debt, he said.

The negative

Sink last week aired a light-hearted commercial with friendly banter between her and her father. Jolly ran his own introductory commercial, which only took one swipe at Sink.

But with only seven weeks until the March 11 general election, you can count on watching television ads very soon claiming evil deeds by (fill in the blank.)

Sink had $1 million cash on hand right after Christmas, and now that the Republican primary is over, money will gush into Jolly's campaign accounts, too. In case that's not enough, outside groups not controlled by the candidates are preparing their own blitz.

Bipartisanship

The winner in this race will follow Young, a congressman with such a bipartisan spirit that during his funeral in October, the second-ranking Democrat in the U.S. House thanked Pinellas voters for repeatedly sending the Republican back to Congress.

And only a few months ago, Congress was so mired in infighting that the government shut down.

Jolly and Sink both pledge to work with people from all political parties. They probably can't prove this before getting elected, but it might be interesting to see if any prominent Democrats come out for Jolly or any prominent Republicans come out for Sink.

The outsider

Lucas Overby, 27, a commercial diver who is a Libertarian, also is running. His website calls him the "quintessential political outsider."

When talking to voters, he said they don't seem as curious about the details of the Libertarian Party platform as they are about whether he will stick to his promises once in office. That suits him fine, because he said he won't owe anything to huge corporate contributors or an entrenched big-party leadership.

He stressed the overall need to cut federal spending, to reform defense contracting to make it more efficient, to cut corporate welfare and to review and reform welfare and entitlement programs. He supports same-sex marriage, gun owners' rights, medical marijuana and "the controlled withdrawal from the war on drugs."

An independent write-in candidate, Michael Levinson, 72, also is running.

Comments
William March: Why Jose Vazquez had to campaign from a prison cell

William March: Why Jose Vazquez had to campaign from a prison cell

Jose Vazquez, Democratic nominee in the Dec. 19 state House District 58 special election, doesn’t seem like a criminal. He’s 43, divorced with six children, and has worked as a security guard and in auto recycling. He was a high-level political field...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Selective outrage: Trump criticizes Franken, silent on Moore

Selective outrage: Trump criticizes Franken, silent on Moore

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump is displaying selective outrage over allegations of sexual harassment against prominent men in politics, as his own tortured past lingers over his response. Trump moved quickly Thursday to condemn accusations again...
Updated: 7 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 ...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Franken draws swift condemnation in Congress after woman claims he groped her

Franken draws swift condemnation in Congress after woman claims he groped her

WASHINGTON — Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., faced swift condemnation and bipartisan calls for an ethics investigation Thursday after he was accused of forcibly kissing and groping a broadcaster and model while traveling overseas in 2006.The allegations ag...
Published: 11/16/17
Alabama GOP stands by Roy Moore; Trump declines to urge him to quit Senate race

Alabama GOP stands by Roy Moore; Trump declines to urge him to quit Senate race

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Roy Moore won a reprieve in his struggle to survive as a U.S. Senate candidate Thursday when the Alabama Republican Party affirmed it would continue backing him despite allegations that he sexually assaulted teenagers."Judge Moore ...
Published: 11/16/17
Big House victory for GOP tax plan, but Senate fate unclear

Big House victory for GOP tax plan, but Senate fate unclear

WASHINGTON — Republicans rammed a $1.5 trillion overhaul of business and personal income taxes through the House Thursday, edging toward the code’s biggest rewrite in three decades and the first major legislative triumph for President Donald Trump an...
Published: 11/16/17
Trump reverses ban on importing elephants killed as trophies

Trump reverses ban on importing elephants killed as trophies

WASHINGTON — The Trump administration said it will allow the importation of body parts from African elephants shot for sport, contending that encouraging wealthy big-game hunters to kill them will aid the vulnerable species. The U.S. Fish and Wildlif...
Published: 11/16/17
Senate Judiciary panel: Kushner had contacts about WikiLeaks, Russian overtures he did not disclose

Senate Judiciary panel: Kushner had contacts about WikiLeaks, Russian overtures he did not disclose

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump’s adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner received and forwarded emails about WikiLeaks and a "Russian backdoor overture and dinner invite" that he kept from Senate Judiciary Committee investigators, according to pane...
Published: 11/16/17
Not just Disneyland? California officials probe source of Legionnaires’ cases

Not just Disneyland? California officials probe source of Legionnaires’ cases

ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Three new cases of Legionnaires’ disease have been identified in Southern California and officials are looking at the possibility there may be a source outside Disneyland, where at least 11 of the patients visited in September,...
Published: 11/16/17
New Jersey Sen. Menendez’s bribery trial, a case with Florida connections, ends in a hung jury

New Jersey Sen. Menendez’s bribery trial, a case with Florida connections, ends in a hung jury

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — The federal bribery trial of Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez ended in a mistrial Thursday when the jury said it was hopelessly deadlocked on all charges against the New Jersey politician and a wealthy donor.Prosecutors can seek to re...
Published: 11/16/17