The abbreviated, uninspiring campaign to select the Republican nominee in the race to succeed the late U.S. Rep. C.W. Bill Young mercifully ends today when the polls close at 7 p.m. Nearly one in five registered Republican voters already have cast ballots via mail or early voting. But for those heading to voting precincts, state Rep. Kathleen Peters, with a long record of service in the community and a common-sense approach to governing, remains the best option on the ballot.
Peters, a former South Pasadena mayor, is vying for the Republican nomination against David Jolly, a Washington lobbyist and Young's former general counsel, and Mark Bircher, a retired brigadier general of the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve and a commercial pilot. The winner will face former Florida Chief Financial Officer and Democrat Alex Sink and Libertarian Lucas Overby in the March 11 general election.
While less familiar with the details of federal policy than Jolly, Peters displays a deeper understanding of the district's diverse communities and an appreciation for nuance in public policy. A business owner, Peters has worked at the Juvenile Welfare Board and the YMCA of Greater St. Petersburg, focusing on juvenile justice and delinquency issues, and for the Clearwater Chamber of Commerce. She was elected to the state House in 2012. Neither of her opponents has a similar history of civic engagement in this area.
Since Young died in October after serving more than four decades in office, Peters has often stood in contrast to hard-line ideological positions taken by Jolly and Bircher. Peters, for example, has said she opposes the Affordable Care Act but it would be wrong to repeal it until Congress devises a plan to protect those with pre-existing conditions to ensure they still have access to health care. That just makes sense.
This has been a low-profile primary election with unfamiliar GOP candidates campaigning to succeed the only congressman many Pinellas residents have ever known. For today's election, Kathleen Peters remains the best choice for Republicans.