MORE NO-SHOWS FOR CANDIDATE FORUM by Roxanne Escobales10/26/06
Enough candidates this election season have not shown up for debates with their opponents to make it a trend. In keeping with that, todayÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Tiger Bay meeting in Tampa, was planned as a debate between six of opponents running for the state senate. But as WMNFÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Roxanne Escobales reports, it ended up as an informational session as the three Republican candidates did not show.
Democrat Charlie Justice running for the district X seat has raised close to 250-thousand dollars. Since the primary, Justice and his opponent Kim Berfield have used their political ads to attack each otherÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s campaign finance contributions. That led Justice to charge that Berfield was running false and misleading ads. And along with the no-shows, it was another trend that continued.
Stephen Gorham of Eastern Hillsborough County is running for the district X seat. While a Democrat, he sounds like a Republican. HeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s against abortion, heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s for guns, and he thinks property taxes should have been cut more than they were. While considered the underdog, his right-of-center democratic values may put Gorham in good stead in the race against the most controversial local politician in recent history. Ronda Storms. He used her absence to his benefit.
The least known candidate of the trio who bothered to show up is Burt Linthicum with the Constitution Party of Florida. That fringe party stands for protecting the sanctity of the constitution and little government intervention. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a party that Linthicum called Ã¢â‚¬Å“fiercely American.Ã¢â‚¬? In that tradition, Linthicum, a certified public accountant, supports very firm anti-immigrant views.
In opposition, both Charlie Justice and Stephen Gorham said they both support opening up the democratic and electoral processes to non-English speaking people. And immigration was not the only issue that found the two Justice and Gorham with different views from third party candidate Linthicum. Both Democrats said they would support widening indigent healthcare throughout the sate. But Linthicum claimed he knows Ã¢â‚¬Å“about everything there is to know about healthcareÃ¢â‚¬? having worked for Morton Plant Mease Healthcare.
Those that attended the forum hoped to see some political sparks fly but instead got a virtual meet-and-greet with a moderate Democrat, a Democrat with a whiff of the GOP about him, and a far-right, third party candidate.