A veteran of Pinellas County politics and a political newcomer both are trying to convince voters that they should represent the St. Petersburg area in the state Senate. Sen. Jeanne Malchon, D-St. Petersburg, has been a state senator since 1982 and is a former Pinellas County commissioner. She says she has established a "very positive record" and that voters should return her to office.
Republican Don Sullivan, a surgeon who had never run for office before, has portrayed himself as a non-politician. He defeated two other candidates, Patricia Baker and Bob Melby, in a primary and a runoff election this fall.
The Senate race is considered a key matchup, because Republicans have labeled the seat winnable. If Sullivan defeats Malchon, it will bring the Republican Party closer to its goal of winning its first majority in the state Senate.
Malchon, 67, has campaigned on her record. She has pointed out that she helped sponsor the right-to-know legislation that requires businesses to disclose which hazardous materials are kept at their sites. She was a prime sponsor of the law that forces many businesses to designate non-smoking areas.
She also helped start a pilot program in Pinellas County designed to correct the piecemeal approach the government sometimes uses when administering social services.
Sullivan has said his medical expertise would help him in the Senate, where a sizeable share of the legislation deals with health matters.
He has proposed creating a new state agency for child and family services that would take over some of the tasks now handled by the Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services.
Sullivan has said Malchon takes too many campaign contributions from special-interest groups. But she points out that Sullivan has accepted thousands from doctors and others in the medical profession. Sullivan had raised more than $157,000 by late September, and Malchon had raised more than $94,000.
Both candidates say they believe women have the right to choose whether to have abortions.
_ CURTIS KRUEGER
The senator from District 18 represents Gulfport, most of St. Petersburg, part of Seminole and the beach communities from North Redington Beach south. State senators serve four-year terms and are paid $22,560 a year.
JEANNE MALCHON, 67, of St. Petersburg, has been a state senator since 1982. She is a former Pinellas County commissioner. She received an associate degree from Virginia Intermont College. She is widowed and has an adult son. ASSETS: Home, condominium, cash, investments. LIABILITIES: Mortgage, loan. INCOME: State senator's salary, husband's pension, investments.
DON SULLIVAN, 54, of Seminole, is an orthopedic surgeon with an office in St. Petersburg. He graduated from Northwestern University and Baylor University College of Medicine. He served in the Air Force from 1967 to 1969 and was a captain. This is his first try for public office. He is married and has three children. ASSETS: Home, airplane, farm in Georgia, investments. LIABILITIES: Farm loans. INCOME: Medical practice, investments, office rental, farm income.