3 Florida House District 58 candidates debate on WMNF

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WMNF’s MidPoint hosted a debate for a special election for the state Legislature; it’s the District 58 seat in eastern Hillsborough County made vacant because Republican Dan Raulerson resigned.

Florida House District 58 in the northeast corner of Hillsborough County, and includes all or parts of Plant City, Temple Terrace, Tampa, Thonotosassa, Dover, Seffner, East Lake-Orient Park and Mango.

In the Republican primary, Lawrence McClure defeated Yvonne Fry. But in an email, McClure wrote to WMNF News, “Unfortunately I will not be able to make it do to a prior commitment. Thank you for reaching out. ”

The other three candidates joined us live in the studio: Jose Vazquez is a Democrat, Bryan Zemina is with the Libertarian Party of Florida and Ahmad Hussam Saadaldin is running without party affiliation.

Listen to the full show here:

Watch the Facebook live video here:


Vazquez ran against Raulerson last November and lost 58.5% – 41.5%.

Saadaldin is running as an NPA – no party affiliation, but our listeners may remember him from his activism with the Green Party and also from videos with Peace House.

Here’s information about the election via the Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections office:

Early voting is from December 9 through 16, from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Supervisor of Elections Craig Latimer mailed out 19,076 ballots earlier this month
Vote by mail: Vote By Mail: Ballots must be in office no later than 7 p.m. December 19. Req by 13th
Election Day is December 19, polls are open from 7 a.m. – 7 p.m.

District 58 registration information:

Registered Voters: 91,475

Registered Democrats: 34,119

Registered Republicans: 31,672

Registered Libertarian: 256

Registered Other: 25,428

Despite those registration numbers, The Tampa Bay Times reports, “The Republican will be heavily favored in the GOP-leaning district, where Donald Trump won by 10 points and Mitt Romney beat Barack Obama in 2012.”

From the Florida Division of Elections website, here’s fundraising data by the four candidates as of November 6: McClure: $147,985 Vazquez: $1,907 Zemina: $7,322 Saadaldin: $11,659

According to the Tampa Bay Times:

“Much of the campaign was conducted by outside committees that kept their sources of funding hidden. One sent almost daily mailers on behalf of McClure, tarring Fry as a liberal, pro-tax, anti-gun candidate who didn’t support Trump, charges she denied. Fry’s camp blamed that on McClure’s campaign manager, Anthony Pedicini, who has close ties to the state Republican Party and GOP legislative leaders. McClure denied any knowledge of the committee’s activities.”

Two Republicans from Tampa Bay are sponsoring bills in the Senate and House to ban fracking in Florida. We heard from the three candidates whether they support a ban (Vazquez and Saadaldin: Yes, Zemina: No).


  • GMT

    WHAT A SHOW — WAKE EVERYONE UP! If it weren’t for WMNF, I wouldn’t know there was a special election coming up for the State House. Where is the Tampa Bay Times, for God’s sake.
    I do not live in the district, but this is a very, very important election: Earlier this month the Democrats kicked bootie in Virginia and other states. Plus, the fact that the GOP candidate is running as a Trump man is not a good thing, either, as Trump’s latest polls put him as one of the most unpopular and mistrusted presidents in our entire history.
    Shame on you, Mr. Saadaldin and what a cop-out: You don’t want to run as a Democrat because they need to return to their roots supporting the working class? So why don’t you jump on the bus and help steer it back on course? Like Bernie Sanders is doing. Be part of the solution in stead of splitting the vote. You are a spoiler. You seem to be a well-spoken, bright man. Now is the time, not later.
    Mr. Zemina is right, nobody should write off district 58 as a GOP sure thing, Don’t let the Tampa Bay Times put a label on it either, because it’s not the hometown paper, those folks don’t know the turf, the history. Everyone! If you live there please vote. Because nobody should be so arrogant he can’t participate in a debate or think the district is up for sale. Good luck to the Democrat Mr. Vasquez, you are right.
    Another great job Sean Kineane!

  • greencat9

    Really an interesting show. The Republican shows his distain for voters. The Democratic leaders seem to be writing this one off. Trains totally generate business at every stop and the Libertarian is not up on his money makers and should probably travel to Europe, Washington DC and other cities that enjoy the vitality. The divestment movement that Ahmad led, where the USF was asked to divest from wars profiteers, and other corporate criminals.