Voters in the state Senate District 19 race have a choice between a candidate running a low-cost campaign of ideas and one who has perfected the big-money game of politics.
Sue Humphreys, a Democrat, is a bright political newcomer with qualities that would serve her well as a legislator. She is informed on the issues and experienced in community service from her work as a board member of the League of Women Voters. In that role, she has studied government's need for better planning rather than crisis bugeting in the last moments of a legislative session.
She also understands Florida's needs and would be a progressive voice in a senate chamber where so many members appear to be in denial.
Humphreys, 49, has taken on a tough assignment, defeating incumbent Jack Latvala, a political insider who has raised$200,000, nearly 10 times the money Humphreys has for the campaign.
In his first term, Latvala, 44, a Republican, has not done a bad job for his district, keeping a high profile in both Pinellas and Pasco counties on issues such as sewer woes in Hudson and a library for East Lake.
But Latvala is heavily backed by outside special interests who are too much involved in a local race. Alamo Rent a Car doesn't give Latvala's campaign $500 in the interest of Pinellas and Pasco consumers.
As owner of one of the biggest direct-mail operations in the country, Latvala admits that he has done some things he's not proud of in past political campaigns. His reputation as a candidate and office holder, however, is respectable. He has worked hard to support education and is accessible to his constituents.
Humphreys will be hard pressed to overcome Latvala's advantages. He has the big money and interest-group endorsements. Voters have a chance to reward Humphreys for trying to make the contest a vigorous, two-party debate on the issues. The Times recommends Humphreys.