Thursday, December 14, 2017
Politics

USFSP political science professor challenges Jeff Brandes for state Senate seat

A University of South Florida St. Petersburg professor who teaches courses in American government is about to get some firsthand experience. She has filed papers to run as a Democrat for the state Senate seat held by Republican Jeff Brandes.

Although she is a first-time candidate, Judithanne Scourfield McLauchlan, 45, of Madeira Beach, is no neophyte. The political science professor and Ph.D. has worked in presidential campaigns and has served on the board of directors of the League of Women Voters. She often appears on local television talking about politics. Her most recent book, Congressional Participation as Amicus Curiae before the U.S. Supreme Court, explores how members of Congress try to influence Supreme Court decisionmaking.

In announcing her candidacy, McLauchlan emphasized her credentials both as a teacher and a parent. She and her husband, Ramsay McLauchlan, a former chairman of the Pinellas Democratic party, have one daughter, Peggy, and McLauchlan serves on the board of the PTA of Madeira Beach Elementary School.

"As a teacher and a mother, I know firsthand the damage that Tallahassee ideologues have caused by gutting education —hurting our children, our community, and our economy," she said. "I'm frustrated, and that's why I'm running for state Senate."

District 22, about two-thirds of which is in Pinellas and one third in Hillsborough, on paper should be among the most competitive in the state. President Barack Obama and Democratic U.S. congressional candidate Alex Sink won it in the past.

Democrats and Republicans often see Brandes as too conservative for such a swing district.

Times staff political editor Adam C. Smith contributed to this report.

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