Tea Party and 9-12 Group Host Candidate Forum in Taxpayer-Funded Space listen04/09/10 Kate Bradshaw
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Last night, the Tampa Tea Party and the Tampa Nine-Twelve Project held a town hall meeting at the same Ybor City site as last yearâ€™s now infamous town hall discussion on health care. U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor led that meeting at the taxpayer-funded Children's Board headquarters before it devolved into chaos. But yesterdayâ€™s panelists, all of whom want to unseat her, addressed a mellower crowd about where they think Castor and other Washington Democrats have gone wrong.
We have representatives who are not representing anybody. The people that they are representing definitely donâ€™t live in this congressional district. â€™Cause this was called the â€œCigar City,â€ and the representative from the Cigar City is responsible for taxing Hav-A-Tampa Cigar into extinction.
That was Eddie Adams, one of three Republicans at the event vying for Castorâ€™s District 11 seat. He has lost to Castor in two previous elections. Adams was referring to a tobacco tax that Castor supported, which the Hav-A-Tampa Cigar Company blames for its 2009 closure. He later said he wants to see major cuts in the federal government, and would push for axing offices like the U.S. Department of Education.
Itâ€™s redundant, and itâ€™s not effective. That should be a state and local issue, education. We can also get rid of the Department of Homeland Security, because we went 200-some years without it, and we were safe up until now, and it is something that can be eliminated. We can also get rid of the Department of Energy, considering that their primary function and job from the very beginning was to make us independent of foreign oil and energy sources.
The event was much less a health care forum than a way for District 11 hopefuls to paint Castor as a tax-and-spend liberal who doesnâ€™t care about her district. In his attempt at this, Republican Tony Buntyn conjured images of the other Bay Area.
This is not San Francisco Bay, the land of Nancy Pelosiâ€™s. This is Tampa Bay. We have different values. But Iâ€™m afraid that Ms. Castor has adopted the values of Nancy Pelosi. Sheâ€™s the ninth most liberal member of Congress. I donâ€™t think that reflects the views, and goals, of this community.
One Democrat sat on the panel. Tim Curtis, who calls himself a Constitutional Democrat, is reportedly the first â€œtea partyâ€ Democrat to run for Congress. He said the recently-passed health care overhaul, in which Castor is a key player, is unconstitutional.
Iâ€™m not an attorney, but I did sleep at a Holiday Inn Express. It takes only a cursory reading of the Constitution to understand that the intent behind the Commerce Clause, to understand that this is exactly the opposite of what our Founding Fathers intended when they constructed the Commerce Clause.
Republican Attorney General Bill McCollum is citing the U.S. Constitutionâ€™s â€œCommerce Clauseâ€ as key grounds for his lawsuit against the federal government over the legislation, though many legal experts disagree. Curtis was not alone in his criticism of health care reform. Republican Thomas Castellano called the reform a â€œdisaster.â€
We have a right to choose. And whenever you take somebodyâ€™s away, right to choose away, prices go up. It will enable to benefit the insurance companies to now be saying, â€œYou will have insurance, and you will buy it from us. The doctors and the pharmaceutical companies are going to make a lot of money. So basically the people they were trying to protect us against benefited.
Republican Tony Buntyn agreed.
We need to tweak the system, not kill it and start over. We need portability across state lines, and we need better access.
There were few differences among the candidates on nearly every question asked, including those on closing national borders and abolishing corporate taxes â€“ both, of course, garnered a resounding yes. The four also concurred on the controversial prospect of oil and gas exploration in Floridaâ€™s waters. Castellano invoked several Cold War bogeymen in his response to a question on the issue.
Cuba has made deals with Russia and China to drill off their coasts, and theyâ€™re going to be fifty miles off the coast of Florida â€¦ You know, the Vietnamese are going to be in the gulf, and we have the Mexicans drilling in the gulf also. So yes, we should be drilling for oil.
Democrat Tim Curtis said offshore rigs in other states actually have recreational value.
Iâ€™m a scuba diver. I enjoy scuba diving off of the rigs off of Louisiana. Itâ€™s great spear-fishing. Itâ€™s great fishing around the oil rigs.
Tony Buntyn, another Republican, strayed slightly from the Tea Party line when he said it needs to be done in conjunction with development of alternative energy sources.
We have to incentivize those corporations who are going to do the explorationâ€”so that along with harvesting what are our natural resources, the oil and the natural gas, the aim would be also to have good reason to continue development on new energy sources, renewable energy sources. I donâ€™t think thereâ€™s anyone in here who would disagree with the idea that solar energy would be a good thing. If we can develop solar energy and deliver it to a grid, where it makes sense, and it doesnâ€™t put somebody under when they have to pay their power bill, I think everyone would agree that thatâ€™s a good thing.
Although the candidate forum featured four District 11 hopefuls, there were actually seats at the table. The two vacant seats were clearly marked Kathy Castor and Mike Prendergast, Republican newcomer who is also running. Although the Tea Party has reportedly been gaining steam in its campaign to unseat Democrats and moderate Republicans in Washington, many experts say Castor should enjoy an easy re-election in Tampaâ€™s heavily-Democratic District 11. The primary will take place in August.