Despite the terrible weather Thursday night, about 40 people turned out for a candidates’ forum in St Petersburg.

The feature attraction of the evening was the panel of contenders for the Congressional seat currently held by Jim Davis.

WMNF’s Stan Davis was there and filed this report.

[Total Running Time-9:41]

The skies were storming Thursday night, but inside St Petersburg’s Enoch Davis Center, the climate was mild, perhaps even sunny.

The candidates’ forum was co-hosted by the League of Women Voters and the African American Voters Research and Education Committee.

Although Kathy Castor, running for Congress, and Arthenia Joyner, running for the Florida State Senate were absent—leaving the forum an an all male affair –all but one of the remaining contenders were there at the table…for the most part, delighted to share similar positions with each other on the questions they were asked.

The only other no-show, was Michael Steinberg, the eighth challenger for the soon-to-be-vacated Jim Davis seat in Congress

Following a “meet & greet,� St Pete lawyer, Michelle Ligon got the first panel underway.

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[Actuality 1- Michelle Ligon intros County Commission panel]

And then things got a bit weird…

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[Actuality 2- Affordable Housing]

And then got weirder…

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[Actuality 3- Smart Growth]

And then downright bizarre…

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[Actuality 4- What would you do differently]

So, here’s the story…

County Commission hopeful, Norm Roach, and his campaign manager, Brian, are of the mind that Democrat incumbent commissioner Calvin Harris would garner the support of cross-over Republicans in the primary.

Their strategy is to use a Republican-legislated loophole in the Florida election laws.

When Brian filed as a write-in candidate for the at-large County Commission seat, a regulation went into effect that bars Republicans from voting in the all-Democrat contest.

This strategy has been employed 30 times in the eight years that the loophole has existed.

The brothers are gambling that minus his Republican support, Calvin Harris will lose his seat to Norm Roche.

But, the tables could turn if voters just don’t cotton to partisan-politics the Roches are playing.

And, that was only the undercard.

After a brief intermission and a short Q&A with State Senate candidate, Gerald White, the main bout began.

This was the panel of Congressional hopefuls—three Democrats, two Republicans, and one Conservative-Independent.

Michelle Ligon…

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[Actuality 5- Most Important Issue]

Republican Jim Greenwald

Republican Eddie Adams

Democrat Les Miller

Democrat Scott Farrell

Democrat Al Fox

Conservative-Independent RJ Spencer

Later, when Ligon asked for their positions on the Iraq war, little separated the three Democrats and Republican Greenwald. Adams and Spencer, though, broke with the others…

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[Actuality 6- War]

Al Fox

Scott Farrell

Les Miller

Jim Greenwald

Eddie Adams

RJ Spencer

So, how did they do? WMNF did a quick survey amongst the audience…

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[Actuality 7- Vox Populi]

By evening’s end, the candidates had answered four questions, shared several positions, and left the audience wondering if Kathy Castor or Michael Steinberg would have anything different to say from what they’d just heard.

For WMNF, I’m Stan Davis

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