David Jolly, one of the three Republicans vying to succeed the late U.S. Rep. C.W. Bill Young, likes to say he's best equipped to serve Pinellas County because as a former aide to Young he already knows how to get things done in Washington.
In a Political Connections interview airing on Bay News 9 Sunday in Tampa Bay, however, the federal lobbyist sounded like a rookie when it came to the question of whether he would have voted for the House budgets proposed by Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., in recent years.
"I would have to examine the details of the Ryan plan," said Jolly, clearly not ready to embrace the sweeping changes to entitlement programs envisioned by the Ryan plans that Rep. Young and the overwhelming majority of other House Republicans supported.
Here's one key difference between the Republican candidates in that race: Jolly said on Political Connections he will fight from day one to repeal the Affordable Care Act, while state Rep. Kathleen Peters doesn't go that far.
"I don't think we should take a stand and say, 'absolutely repeal it' unless we have a plan to replace it," Peters said Friday at a Suncoast Tiger Bay luncheon.
Mark Bircher, a commercial pilot and retired Marine general, stakes out the most conservative position.
At Tiger Bay, Bircher said the federal government should have no role in health care or anything else not specifically enumerated in the Constitution. That doesn't bode well for Medicare, let alone Obamacare, in Bircher's view.
Political Connections airs at 11 a.m. and 8 p.m.
Who's giving to Crist?
Charlie Crist's newly formed political committee, Charlie Crist for Florida, raised more than $2 million in its first month, which is pretty impressive until you look at Gov. Rick Scott's November haul — $4 million.
The top Crist donors: $345,000 — Floridians for Fairness, political committee operated by Jay Burmer, Crist's college friend who managed his education commissioner campaign in 2000 and whose firm was paid $350,000 by the Republican Party of Florida when Crist was governor; $250,000 — Marty Rauch, real estate agent in Sarasota; $250,000 — Grossman Roth, a Coral Gables personal injury law firm; $100,000 — Steve Mostyn, president of the Texas Trial Lawyers Association, he gave $5.3 million to Democratic causes in 2012; $100,000 — Bruce Berkowitz of Coral Gables, CEO of Fairholme Capital, equity fund manager and investment adviser, member of the board of directors of the St. Joe Co.; $100,000 — Susan McCurry, Naples, retired agribusiness owner and investor; $100,000 — Institute of Cardiovascular Excellence, Ocala-based clinic; $100,000 — Barbara Stiefel, Coral Gables, a long-time Democratic fundraiser and philanthropist who gave $1.7 million in political contributions in 2012; $100,000 — Rosalie Danbury, a retiree from Venice, gave $305,800 to Democrats in 2012; $100,000 — William "Andy" Haggard, a Miami lawyer.
Rubio: No wage hike
Sen. Marco Rubio, still trying to build credentials for a possible presidential run, was in London on Tuesday to give what his office heralded as a "major" speech on foreign policy. But during a Q&A session with reporters, he was asked about some domestic concerns, including a growing push to increase the minimum wage.
"Obviously I want people to make more money," Rubio said. "I don't think that elevating the minimum wage is very effective at accomplishing that."
He said that could lead some employers to cut jobs and demand existing workers do more. Rubio instead talked about making sure people had the right job skills.
Fundraiser for Sink
Alex Sink on Tuesday will attend a $250-per-person fundraiser for her congressional campaign at the St. Petersburg home of former special counsel Ben Diamond. Here's the host committee: St. Petersburg Mayor-elect Rick Kriseman, Pinellas County Commissioner Janet Long, State Rep. Dwight Dudley, City Council member Karl Nurse, Stacie Blake Collins and L. Anthony Collins, Will and Stacy Conroy, Justin and Elena Day, Ben and Christina Diamond, Frank and Sandra Diamond, Jeff Lieser, Neil McMullen, Sean Shaw, Craig and Jan Sher, Ghada Skaff, Kanika Tomalin, and Donna Yarbrough.
Jolly pokes at Latvala
Are there any Pinellas Republicans serving in state or county elective offices that state Sen. Jack Latvala has no use for? The invitation to a Latvala fundraiser/roast at Ruth Eckerd Hall provided a pretty good hint. The host committee included every single elected Republican except two: state Rep. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg, and County Commissioner Norm Roche.
Congressional District 13 candidate David Jolly has held his tongue about Latvala's steady criticism, but he took an unmistakable jab at Latvala, a direct mail consultant and Kathleen Peters adviser, at Tiger Bay Friday.
"I don't believe in poll-tested, one-line attacks that are simply done to fund direct mail businesses,'' Jolly told the overflow crowd that included Latvala.
Alex Leary and Mary Ellen Klas contributed to this report.