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House District 62 race pits veteran against novice

Early this year, state Rep. S. L. "Spud" Clements, D-Brandon, arranged a meeting between state transportation officials and a group of business people in Apollo Beach who were having trouble with a canal. Clements hoped his constituents would appreciate the gesture.

Instead, one of the business leaders, Chris Corr of Frandorson Properties, announced soon afterward that he was running for Clements' seat in the Legislature.

"It couldn't have been more than two weeks," said Clements, who was in Tallahassee when he heard the news.

But Corr saw no reason to feel indebted to Clements, because Corr says the Florida Department of Transportation did not solve the problem.

"This is just another example of Spud Clements saying one thing, then going to Tallahassee and doing another," Corr said.

Such is the tone of the Clements-Corr campaign for House District 62 in which the 27-year-old son of a development family has gone on the offensive against a former state trooper who has been in the Legislature for 10 years.

Corr says Clements is a phony, a Democrat who calls himself a conservative but who is part of the state machinery that spends, spends, spends.

Corr, a Republican, hopes to oust Clements in the increasingly Republican community of farmers, mobile home dwellers, retirees and suburbanites that makes up the southeast Hillsborough district.

As Corr sees it, Clements' policies are passe.

"He hasn't met a tax he doesn't like," Corr said. "State spending in Florida has increased by more than 300 percent in the last 10 years. He calls himself a responsible conservative, but I'd like to know how he calls that responsible."

But, as Corr knocks on doors and bad-mouths Clements, the incumbent is playing good cop.

He only recently opened his campaign office, and is sending out his first mailing this week, an introductory brochure that features pictures of Clements in a baseball uniform, in Florida Highway Patrol garb and posing with one of his children.

"I'm running a positive campaign," said Clements, who is 62. "I'm not going to allow him to run my campaign."

Corr, he said, is "grasping at straws. It's easy to attack someone's record when you don't have one of your own."

Clements, who looks and talks like a former state trooper, has spent most of his life in the Tampa Bay area. He prides himself in being a full-time legislator.

Among his favorite accomplishments are legislative "turkeys" that include a Hillsborough Community College campus in Brandon and money for a Brandon library and cultural center, due to open in December.

Corr was born in Lansing, Mich., and moved to Florida when he was 2. His family created Apollo Beach in the 1950s, before Corr was born. Frandorson, the family business, continues to be a major developer in the area.

Corr graduated from the University of Florida in 1985 and has worked as Frandorson's business manager ever since.

Corr said he decided to run for office after serving in civic and business organizations such as the Apollo Beach Chamber of Commerce and the Apollo Beach Economic Development Council.

"I care about the future of the state and my community," he said. "This is where I grew up and this is where I'm raising my family."

Clements accuses Corr of having been born "with a silver spoon in his mouth." But Corr insists he was not spoiled. As a teen-ager, he worked in a sewage treatment plant, he said.

"I won't deny that I have been a very fortunate person, but I was never pampered and never babied," Corr said.

Corr likes to point out that while he comes from a family of developers, Clements has attracted a large share of political action committee money from real estate agents and home builders.

Clements has raised $74,375, says a campaign report filed Sept. 28. The contributors include business interests such as phosphate companies, engineers and citrus processors.

Corr had raised $33,121 as of Oct. 12, much of it from individuals and small businesses.

Corr believes Florida has an adequate tax base but that the government needs to manage its money better.

Clements believes the government should be able to borrow for roads, schools and prisons.

But, in spite of their differences on tax and spending issues, the two agree on several key issues.

Both disapprove of the way the Florida Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services (HRS) handles child abuse cases. Both support the 1985 Growth Management Act, a three-day waiting period to purchase handguns, the death penalty, and a constitutional amendment that would outlaw desecration of the American flag.