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Published Oct. 18, 2005

Cheryl Davis Knapp and Michael Bilirakis, the candidates for the District 9 U.S. House seat, have never met for a face-to-face debate. But that doesn't mean the two haven't had a chance to speak their minds.

Knapp, a Democrat, has accused Bilirakis of voting against children, women, the environment and veterans.

Bilirakis, a Republican from Palm Harbor, says he is an able lawmaker who has helped bring money home to the district for important projects. He says he has made strides toward improving the environment and solving health-care problems.

Bilirakis and Knapp could not be farther apart on the issue of abortion. Knapp says she strongly believes women have the right to choose whether to have abortions and that Bilirakis' strong opposition to allowing abortions is one reason she decided to run for the House.

Bilirakis says he wants to return to Congress in part to finish the work he has begun.

He has called for congressional hearings to find ways to provide affordable health care to everyone. As Bilirakis sees it, the hearings should focus on Canada's comprehensive health care system and several alternatives.

Bilirakis also cites grants and other financial assistance he has helped obtain for the East Pasco Health Clinic, for a Veterans Administration outpatient clinic in Port Richey and for the James A. Haley outpatient clinic in Tampa.

But Knapp says Bilirakis has voted against programs to pay for prenatal care.

She has criticized Bilirakis for voting for amendments to weaken the Clean Air Act, but Bilirakis says she has taken his votes out of context.

Knapp has called on Bilirakis to debate her, saying, "I will debate Mike Bilirakis anywhere, anytime." Bilirakis has said he was not reluctant to debate but was busy with congressional duties.

Bilirakis easily defeated political newcomer John Freehafer in the Republican primary.



U.S. House District 9 includes northern Pinellas and Hillsborough counties and western Pasco County. House members serve two-year terms and will be paid $120,000 a year starting in 1991.


CHERYL DAVIS KNAPP, 43, is a nurse from Safety Harbor. She has an undergraduate degree in nursing from Northern Kentucky University. This is her first campaign for public office. She is married and has two children. ASSETS: Home, investments. LIABILITIES: Mortgage. INCOME: Nurse's salary.


MICHAEL BILIRAKIS, 60, has been the District 9 representative since 1982. He is a lawyer and has been a petroleum engineer and a government contract negotiator. He received an undergraduate degree from the University of Pittsburgh and a law degree from the University of Florida. He is an Air Force veteran, is married and has two children. ASSETS: Commercial, residential and unimproved properties in Dunedin, Holiday, Hudson, Palm Harbor and Tarpon Springs; cash; investments. LIABILITIES: Mortgages, personal loans. INCOME: Congressional salary, honoraria, bank director's fee, investments, real estate rentals.