Who Is CD 13's Bigger Crime Dog, Sink or Jolly?
Around the State
With a month to go, the candidates running in the special election for an open congressional seat in Pinellas County tried to establish their crime-fighting credentials on Tuesday, but also showed more of their teeth.
David Jolly, the Republican in the contest, released a new commercial showcasing his work for “Jessica’s Law” and standing against child predators. Jolly takes on former state CFO Alex Sink, the Democratic candidate, and Libertarian Lucas Overby in the March 11 special election.
“Many years ago, while waiting to board a flight at Washington’s Reagan National Airport to return home to Pinellas, I met a man by the name of Mark Lunsford. It was a moment that changed my life,” Jolly emailed supporters on Tuesday. “Most of us know the tragic story of Mark’s loss. His 9-year-old daughter Jessie lost her life at the hands of a child predator who lived in the neighborhood. I’ll never forget my first conversation with Mark. I approached him to express my condolences and to offer my encouragement for the good work he was doing to enact Jessica’s Law in states across the country and to fight for increased federal law enforcement resources through passage of the Adam Walsh Act. When I asked Mark what he was doing in Washington that week, he replied simply, ‘I’m up here lobbying for some appropriations.’ Mark was referring to his efforts to secure funding for the U.S. Marshals Service to go after absconders from the sex offender registry.
“I wanted to help – so I offered to work with him and other surviving parents to convince leaders in Congress to provide the marshals the funding they needed,” Jolly added. “Two years later, as one team devoted to an incredibly important cause, we had succeeded in securing tens of millions of dollars for the marshals to help protect our communities and our children from child predators. Mark has become a dear friend. He has followed this campaign closely. He recently decided to weigh in and record this commercial about our work together.”
But Sink had her own cards to play on crime-fighting as she unveiled the endorsement of the Sun Coast Police Benevolent Association on Tuesday.
“Pinellas law enforcement officers are proud to endorse Alex Sink for Florida’s 13th Congressional District,” said Mark Marland of the Sun Coast Police Benevolent Association. “The bipartisan, problem-solving values that Alex practiced as a business leader and as our chief financial officer are exactly what we need to break the gridlock in Washington and get Congress focused on solving challenges that matter. Alex understands that keeping our neighborhoods and communities safe is not a partisan issue, and we are confident she will be a strong and effective partner for our public safety officers.”
“I am incredibly proud and honored to receive the endorsement of the Sun Coast Police Benevolent Association,” said Sink. “I have profound respect, appreciation and gratitude for those brave men and women who make incredible sacrifices to keep us safe day and night, and the common-sense problem solving that our public safety officers practice should be an example to those in Washington. I look forward to taking the voices of Pinellas’ public safety, police and corrections officers to Congress so that we can work together to build safe and thriving communities.”
But even as both candidates played up their commitments to safety, they also went on the attack against each other.
Jolly looked to deflect attacks from Sink and her allies against his work as a lobbyist. “Throughout this campaign, my opponent and some in the press have raised politically motivated questions about my work in Washington,” Jolly insisted on Tuesday. “They’ve raised questions of personal trust. They’ve challenged my character. Even more, I have been criticized for saying that I am proud of my work in Washington. I am proud of my work, and Mark is the main reason why. And I am even more proud of my friend Mark and the work he did in Washington -- and I am forever grateful that he let me bear witness to his commitment, his drive and his fight to help parents across the country.
“I didn’t get into this race to seek the affirmation of my opponent or the press. I got into this race to seek the support and affirmation of people like Mark Lunsford. I am humbled by Mark’s support and I’ll let his words in this commercial serve as my response to those in this campaign who continue to criticize my work on behalf of this community,” Jolly continued. “I’ve put my heart and soul into this campaign. I know many of you have as well. It really comes down to this – a campaign like ours that is committed to serving our community and serving those who need help working with Washington, or a campaign started, funded, and run by the Washington establishment with the sole purpose of serving the interests of Washington.”
Sink’s team fired back on Tuesday, looking to tie her opponent to super-PACs which are backing his campaign, including American Crossroads, a Republican group with ties to Karl Rove. Sink is accepting the backing of super-PACs including House Majority PAC and Emily’s List.
“In these final days, Pinellas voters are going to hear a lot of smears and distortions from Karl Rove’s super-PACs and outside special interests as they try to buy their lobbyist friend, David Jolly, a seat in Congress,” Sink’s team warned supporters on Tuesday, even insisting “this barrage of attacks against Alex could sway the election." Sink’s team showcased their candidate’s “record of common-sense problem-solving” and insisted it could help improve things in Washington.
In the meantime, the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) continued to go after Sink for backing President Barack Obama’s federal health-care law.
“It’s unconscionable that Alex Sink continues to support Obamacare while it’s gutting Medicare Advantage and hurting Pinellas seniors," said Katie Prill, a spokeswoman for the NRCC, on Tuesday. “Alex Sink has made it crystal clear that she would rather support the Pelosi-Obama agenda over Pinellas families if sent to Washington.”
Reach Kevin Derby at email@example.com.