The race in State House District 60 started heating up Thursday as each candidate accused the other of being a captive to special interests.
The exchange opened an old political wound _ the services tax that proved to be the undoing of former Gov. Bob Martinez.
Democrat Carol Palomino suggested that her opponent, Republican Victor Crist, is a pawn of the advertising industry. He owns a Temple Terrace advertising agency.
Crist responded by pointing out that 60 percent of the money Palomino raised last month came from labor unions and political action committees.
Palomino has gotten $12,950 from business PACs and labor unions, or about a third of her total contributions.
"We feel like Goliath just accused David of being a bully," Crist said in a prepared statement. He said most of his campaign money has come from individuals while only 16 percent has come from PACs.
About 10 percent of the $25,000 he has raised can be traced to the advertising industry, records show. Palomino said the percentage is higher if other contributions are included, such as typesetters.
Crist challenged Palomino to limit her PAC and labor money to 30 percent of her total. Palomino declined to accept the challenge.
"I've gotten contributions from a very broad spectrum of people," Palomino said. She said Crist's ties to the advertising industry should be considered by voters.
"Victor is very actively involved in the American Advertising Federation," she said."He's been publicly active in efforts .
. to restrict ad taxes in Florida. They've touted his election as one that would benefit advertisers."
Crist acknowledged that he opposed the services tax in 1987 that was passed and later repealed by the Legislature and questioned whether Palomino favors reinstating it.
Palomino said she favors studying whether advertising should be subject to state sales taxes. "This is a huge industry that is exempt from paying taxes in Florida," she said. "I would like to see everybody have to carry a fair share."
Advertisers mounted a ferocious campaign against the services taxes that was widely credited with helping defeat it. Martinez proposed the tax but later retreated, damaging his political standing.
Crist said the PAC and labor money Palomino has received represents only a part of the special interest money she has accepted. She also has gotten money from phosphate companies, big law firms and oil companies.
"What we see happening here is an individual basically buying their way into Tallahassee," he said. "This is what people are trying to get away from. People are tired of people being sponsored and put into office by big-buck special interest groups. The legal profession and big business are fueling her campaign."