Florida Democrats unveil agenda by Mitch E. Perry

06/02/06

Today in Tampa, Florida Democratic Party Chairwoman Karen Thurman ended a series of news conferences held throughout the state this week in which she is laying out the Democratic Party agenda for this election year.

Standing behind a dais at the restaurant Mise En Place with a sign reading, “Security Begins at Home�, Thurman laid out a general list of agenda points that State Democrats represent (roll tape#1 o.q.�had been muted�)

Thurman mentioned specifically the fight against School Vouchers and Property Insurance legislation as measures that Democratic lawmakers were with the people, and against the Republican led legislature, as strong talking points.

In a campaign appearance in Tampa earlier this week, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Rod Smith talked about “the Winds of Changing in Tallahassee� – well, perhaps in the Governor’s Mansion – but what about in the legislature? Republicans dominate Democrats there, 26 to 14 in the Senate, and 82 to 38 in the House. But when WMNF asked Chairwoman Thurman how many seats she hopes the Party can gain, she was surprisingly modest (roll tape#2 o.q.� 16 in the Senate�)

Thurman does call the Tampa Bay region a huge battleground area for State Democrats. She says the Party has been working hard on updating computer files on finding Democrats in the area, and contacting them between now and November.

Wayne Garcia is a columnist for the Weekly Planet newspaper. He says the reason why the Democrats probably will NOT do better in November is because most of the Legislative Districts are so gerrymandered that it’s virtually impossible to defeat an incumbent (roll tape#3 o.q.�benefit Republicans�)

Democratic hopes for re-districting the legislative districts fell dramatically earlier this year when the Florida Supreme Court rejected a proposed ballot initiative that would have stripped the Legislature of its power to redraw political districts and given it to a 15-member commission.

Thurman was joined on a stage set up in the dining room at Mise en Place by several Democrats running for office, such as former Hillsborough County Commissioner Phyllis Busansky and Tampa State Representative Arthenia Joyner, now running for the State Senate currently held by Les Miller. As she did last week, Joyner is calling for the legislature to convene a special session to ‘fix’ the property insurance legislation signed by Governor Bush this week (roll tape#3 o.q.�because that’s what it was�)

Among the Democrats that might break on thru and win in current Republican held seats include State Representative Charlie Justice, running for the State Senate District 16 Seat that includes portions of Hillsboro and Pinellas County, and is being vacated by Jim Sebesta. He will face the winner of a potentially brusing Republian Primary race between GOP house members Kim Berfield and Frank Farkas. Another contested Republican State Race is in District 10, where Sandy Murman is going up against Ronda Storms. The winner there will face fresh faced Navy Veteran Stephen Gorham, who has been telling campaign audiences that his own internal polling shows him virtually tied with Storms in the heavily conservative Eastern Hillsborough County area.(roll tape#4 o.q.�in the State Senate�)

Party officials handed reporters copies of their official Agenda, which breaks down the Democrats positions as a Party on Health Care, Education, Economy, and ‘Real’ Security. But Weekly Planet columnist Wayne Garcia is NOT impressed (roll tape#5 o.q.� election cycle�)

To view this agenda, you can go to the web at fladems.com

Calls to the State Republican Party in Tallahassee were not returned.

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