Democracy for America - Democratic Candidates Forum - Lance Robson
Democracy For America held a candidate forum at the Largo Cultural Center on Friday night. Jim Davis and Rod Smith, both democratic candidates for governor, were in attendance and doubtlessly the main draw. Davis and Smith seem to agree on the vast majority of â€œbreakfast tableâ€? issues such as insurance reform, rethinking disaster planning, improving education & sun setting FCAT, Medicare drug reform, continuing environmental protection, and the remedying the unfilled promises of governor Jeb Bushâ€™s administration.
Along with the Democratic candidates for governor three other candidates took part in Friday nightâ€™s forum. Carl Zimmermann, in District 48, and Rick Kriseman, in District 53, are both running for the State House, while firebrand Samm Simpson will be taking on Republican Bill Young if she gathers enough signatures to get on the ballot.
Many of the hot-button issues, seemingly deemed to be peripheral, were brushed aside at this candidateâ€™s forum sponsored by the progressive Democracy for America movement, that is, until one voice pressed the issue of Davisâ€™ support for the Patriot Act, as well as for missing a critical vote on the lawâ€™s renewal last week.
The vote on the Patriot Act had been delayed by efforts by legislators, led by Democratic Senator from Wisconsin Russ Feingold, to build-in significant protections for civil liberties.
President Bush just signed the renewal and under the new legislation government investigators are still allowed to obtain records, perform warant-less searches, and generally overstep many Constitutional protections.
Jim Davis was blasted for being AWOL on the Patriot vote, which reached its two-thirds majority requirement by only two votes.
State Senator Rod Smithâ€™s position on the Patriot Act slightly differed from Davisâ€™ but doesnâ€™t seem like a real departure.
The range of issues that gubernatorial candidates Rod Smith and Jim Davis voiced was artfully varied, as expected. Davis emphasized notable positions on topics that Smith did not mention, and Smith returned in kind.
Jim Davis spoke of affordable healthcare & housing and his plan to rollback the upper class tax cuts while Rod Smith said he supports stem cell research, expressed his disgust with the Schiavo ruling, and the lacking independence of the judiciary.
But both candidates mentioned the frustration Democrats have with the current Republican led administration in Tallahassee, and how the stage is set for Democrats and Progressives to make inroads.
Afterwards WMNF spoke with a few of the attendees that appeared undecided on a democratic candidate for governor. Fran Earl, chair of the Democracy for America chapter in Hernando County, pressed the Patriot Act issue that went unasked during the Q&A session.
Greg Morgan told WMNF his question about Bushâ€™s potential impeachment also went unasked.
Recent polls show Jim Davis with a double-digit lead over Rod Smith, but at least 50% of Democrats polled are undecided leaving the road wide open for both candidates.
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