1. Florida Politics

By the numbers, Congressional District 13 debate is all about talking points

The three candidates vying to win the Congressional District 13 seat, from left, Democrat Alex Sink, Libertarian Lucas Overby and Republican David Jolly, begin their debate at the Capitol Theatre in Clearwater on Tuesday.
Published Feb. 27, 2014

Here's how the debate works:

The moderator spends untold hours researching relevant topics. Audience members offer a bunch of potential questions on note cards. Debate organizers carve out a 90-minute window for 16 or so topics to be discussed.

And then …

Candidates give three answers. Maybe four on a good day.

Now it's possible I'm exaggerating, but not in an outlandish way.

You see, candidates tend to stick to a handful of talking points no matter what is being asked. This is called staying on point. It may also be called avoiding the question.

With that in mind, I've compiled a list of numbers to sum up the highlights of Tuesday's congressional debate involving David Jolly, Lucas Overby and Alex Sink.

9 Number of times Jolly mentioned Bill Young by name.

You may not be aware that Jolly worked alongside Mr. Young in Congress, and he considered Mr. Young a mentor, and this makes him the logical successor to Mr. Young, and he has been endorsed by Mr. Young's widow and he has been to Mr. Young's house and, in closing, he would like to thank Mr. Young.

Suggestion for Friday's debate on WEDU's Florida This Week: Everyone drinks a shot each time Jolly says the words "Mister" and "Young" in any combination.

17 Words used by Sink when asked to give a one-word answer to the most-needed leadership quality for a member of Congress.

This would be an example of a candidate trying to shoehorn a rehearsed talking point into an unrelated question. The point Sink was trying to make had to do with bipartisanship, which brings us to …

6 Number of times Sink talked about being moderate and working with Republicans.

This is one of the focal points of Sink's campaign. If you buy her line of thinking, she is the centrist candidate in a centrist district and Jolly is a right-wing fanatic.

3 Number of times Jolly said, "This is personal to me."

You can almost see the PR experts giving each other high-fives for coming up with this one. It's the passive-aggressive version of saying Sink is an outsider. "This is personal to me" was usually followed by "This is my home, this is my community."

Clint Eastwood could not have delivered the line better.

4 Spontaneous ovations for Overby, which was more than either Sink or Jolly.

The Libertarian candidate got laughs for a couple of self-deprecating comments, but also got heartfelt applause for some plain-spoken, populist positions.

1 Memorable gaffe by any candidate.

In trying to cater to the chamber of commerce crowd, Sink clumsily linked low-paying jobs and immigrants. A slick debater, she ain't.

7 Number of times Jolly said "Obamacare."

This is an interesting number considering the Affordable Care Act was not among the more than a dozen topics covered during the debate.

0 Knockout punches.


  1. The Mar-a-Lago Resort in Palm Beach. JOE RAEDLE  |  Getty Images
    It wasn’t immediately clear how much Mar-a-Lago would charge to host the Marine Corps Birthday Ball — or even if it might do so for free.
  2. In this March 24, 2018, file photo, crowds of people participate in the March for Our Lives rally in support of gun control in San Francisco. JOSH EDELSON  |  AP
    ‘Guns are always a volatile topic in the halls of the legislature,’ one Republican said.
  3. Pasco County school superintendent Kurt Browning says Fortify Florida, the new state-sponsored app that allows students to report potential threats, is "disrupting the education day" because the callers are anonymous, many of the tips are vague and there's no opportunity to get more information from tipsters. "I have an obligation to provide kids with a great education," Browning said. "I cannot do it with this tool, because kids are hiding behind Fortify Florida." JEFFREY SOLOCHEK  |
    Vague and anonymous tips often waste law enforcement’s time and disrupt the school day, says Kurt Browning, president of Florida’s superintendents association.
  4. Tonight's LGBTQ Presidential Forum is hosted by Angelica Ross of FX's Pose. Twitter
    A live stream of the event and what to watch for as 10 candidates meet on stage in Iowa.
  5. In this April 11, 2018, file photo, a high school student uses a vaping device near a school campus in Cambridge, Mass.  [AP Photo | Steven Senne] STEVEN SENNE  |  AP
    "The department does not appear to have the authority to do anything.”
  6. Clearwater Mayor George Cretekos listens to a speaker share an opinion about a city matter during a city council meeting at Clearwater City Hall in Clearwater, Fla. on Thursday, April 20, 2017.  On Thursday, the Clearwater City Council rejected the mayor's resolution urging lawmakers to ban assault weapons.  [Times files] TIMES FILES  |  Tampa Bay Times
    However, the city did pass a resolution calling for more modest gun control measures.
  7. Maurice A. Ferré at his Miami home earlier this year. JOSE A. IGLESIAS  |  Miami Herald
    He served as mayor for 12 years and set the stage for Miami to become an international city.
  8. Rep. Susan Valdes, D-Tampa, during a Feb. 7, 2019, meeting of the House PreK-12 Appropriations subcommittee. [The Florida Channel]
    ‘One test should not determine the rest of your life,’ Rep. Susan Valdes says.
  9. Vice President Joe Biden, right, talks to supporters as former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, left, stands near during a campaign stop at at Century Village in Boca Raton, Fla., Monday, Oct. 13, 2014. Crist is locked in a tight race against Gov. Rick Scott in one of the most negative gubernatorial campaigns in Florida history. The two disagree on most major issues, including health care, the minimum wage, Cuba policy, gay marriage and medical marijuana. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz) ORG XMIT: FLAD102 ALAN DIAZ  |  AP
    The Florida Republican-turned-Democrat said Biden’s ‘record of getting things done speaks for itself.’
  10. FILE - In this June 20, 2018 photo, immigrant children walk in a line outside the Homestead Temporary Shelter for Unaccompanied Children a former Job Corps site that now houses them in Homestead, Fla.  Migrant children who were separated from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border last year suffered post-traumatic stress and other serious mental health problems, according to a government watchdog report obtained by The Associated Press Wednesday. The chaotic reunification process only added to their trauma. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson, File) BRYNN ANDERSON  |  AP
    Since Homestead’s closing on Aug. 3, at least $33,120,000 has been paid to Caliburn, the company contracted by the government to run Homestead.