With six weeks to go until the special election to fill the congressional seat left open by the death of longtime U.S. Rep. Bill Young, R-Fla., the debate over debates has begun.
Republican candidate David Jolly, an attorney and lobbyist who served as an aide to Young, went after Democratic rival former state CFO Alex Sink for cutting down on the number of debate appearances. Jollys team turned up the heat on Sink this week for missing debate appearances.
The Jolly camp pointed to debates scheduled for Jan. 30, Feb. 5 and Feb. 26 which Sink either cancelled or declined to attend. However, Sink and Jolly have agreed to debates and forums on Feb. 3, Feb. 25 and Feb. 28. While Jolly has agreed to attend debates and forums on Feb. 11, two on Feb. 13, Feb. 17, Feb. 23 and Feb. 26, Sink has not committed to them yet.
We have heard numerous complaints throughout the district that Sinks handlers wont let the media near her to ask pointed questions and that her staff is declining interview requests because she has committed to enough joint appearances, said Sarah Bascom, a Jolly spokeswoman, on Monday. David Jolly believes that the voters of Pinellas County deserve to hear from him on how he feels on every issue that they care about, which is why he is willing to debate Alex Sink every day for the remainder of the special election.
David Jolly knows the local issues because he has walked the streets of the district and met with the people of Congressional District 13 for decades, added Bascom. If Alex Sink really cared about the issues important to Pinellas County voters, she would agree to open forums where she can answer questions posed to her from the voters or impacted organizations instead of avoiding them.
What is becoming increasingly evident is that Sinks Washington handlers do not want to put her toe-to-toe with David Jolly because they know she does not know Pinellas County and the issues that matter most to the district, and she is desperately trying to avoid answering questions about her support of Obamacare and Washingtons tax-and-spend record, Bascom said in conclusion. Maybe Alex Sink should spend more time articulating where exactly she is on the issues of higher taxes, the rising cost of insurance rates for Pinellas homeowners, how she will reduce the federal debt, and of course, how she will handle the epic failure that is Obamacare that is crippling Pinellas families and businesses, and making people lose their insurance plans in their time of need.
The Sink team stressed on Tuesday they were ready to debate Jolly and were looking forward to the first one next Monday.
Alex is ready to get up on the debate stage and make her case to the people of Floridas 13th District, the Sink campaign insisted on Tuesday. We know she is ready to talk about plans to bring folks together, break through the dysfunction, and solve our most pressing problems, just as she did as a leading businesswoman and as the CFO of Florida.
In the meantime, as Sink and Jolly get ready to debate, they are both relying on partisan groups to attack the other campaign.
With President Barack Obama offering the State of the Union address on Tuesday night, the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) is looking to tie his agenda to Sink. Recent polls have shown Obama and his signature health-care law upside down in the Sunshine State.
As Pinellas families tune in to President Obamas address, they should remember that Alex Sinks No. 1 goal is to go to Congress and push for the presidents liberal policies, said Katie Prill, a spokeswoman for the NRCC, on Tuesday. A vote for Alex Sink this March ensures that Nancy Pelosi and Washington Democrats are one step closer to accomplishing their liberal agenda.
The Florida Democratic Party pushed back on Tuesday.
We knew that the GOP was going to spend big in races all across Florida, Allison Tant, the chairwoman of the Florida Democrats, insisted in a fundraising email to supporters on Tuesday. Theyre going to try to buy races up and down the ballot. And they're already on the air with dishonest ads against Alex Sink and the rest of our congressional delegation.
Sink, Jolly and Libertarian candidate Lucas Overby will meet in the March 11 special election.
Reach Kevin Derby at email@example.com.