Alex Sink only candidate in Pinellas Congressional race to support Obamacare

12/06/13 Janelle Irwin
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Tags: Alex Sink, David Jolly, Kathleen Peters, Tiger Bay, Bill Young, Congress, special election


Congressional candidates Alex Sink, Mark Birch, David Jolly, Kathleen Peters and Lucas Overby collect their Tiger Bay mugs after fielding questions from members.

photo by Janelle Irwin

Only one of five Pinellas County congressional candidates fielding questions at a political forum in St. Pete Friday supports the federal healthcare law. Of the three Republicans, one Libertarian and one Democrat, only Alex Sink thought the law should continue to be enforced as is.

“The roll out has been a disaster. The administration has failed us, but I believe that Americans deserve the right to health insurance and affordable healthcare.”

Sink, a Democrat, is so far running unopposed in the special primary election to replace U.S. Congress member Bill Young who died in October. But the field of Young’s fellow Republicans trying to keep the seat Red is crowded. One candidate hoping to earn the job held by Young for more than 40 years is a former staffer, David Jolly. Jolly was the only Republican running who unequivocally said he would join conservatives in voting to repeal the healthcare law. But one of his opponents, rookie State Representative Kathleen Peters rejected the symbolic repeal votes seen more than 40 times in Congress.

“Is it a problem? Yes. We have to address it. But we can’t just repeal it. We have to have a comprehensive plan … something that is affordable that isn’t mandated down and forcing people to not have choices.”

Jolly is also being challenged by Pinellas attorney Mark Bircher. Bircher just entered the race last week and doesn’t even have a website. He footed more than $10,000 in costs to file for the race. But he’s confident he can contend with Jolly and Peters highlighting popular conservative issues like the healthcare law and government spending. Bircher also weighed in on immigration reform.

“I think our laws should be respected. I think a person that’s in our country illegally should go through the legal process to come. I do not believe that amnesty is the good way to go. I’m for enforcing our laws and having people respect our laws.”

Jolly, a former Young staffer and Washington lobbyist, weighed in another party line issue – making sure Americans have access to quality jobs making a livable wage.

“As we have the conversation about the disparity, we often find ourselves having that conversation during economic down times when everybody was hurting. Those who make the least, they hurt the worst. When economic times are good, we rarely have those conversations. If you consider the mid-2000s, the economy was great and that’s …”

However, Jolly wouldn’t endorse the Equal Rights Amendment to the constitution that would strengthen wage discrimination laws.

“Clearly, wage discrimination is and should be illegal. Discrimination on gender and whole list of issues is and should be illegal. It’s that simple.”

Voters will hit the poles for the special primary on January 14th and then the special general election in March. Appealing to constituent’s pocket books in a district where many homeowners are in flood zones, each candidate emphasized their commitment to working to ease the flood insurance sticker shock. Sink, the Democrat running, says it would be one of her top priorities in Washington.

“How is it that we, in this county, have paid in eight times more than we have ever claimed back from the flood insurance department. So, first of all, I’m proposing that the problems with the flood insurance plan should not be on the backs of the people in Florida who’ve paid in far more than we’ve ever … but we also, there’s a second part of this, we cannot part of this, we cannot afford to kick the can down the road and wait four years for a resolution.”

The congressional race also has a Libertarian candidate. Lucas Overby was asked how he could compete in a race as not just a third party candidate, but also as a political unknown, Overby said those issues matter in presidential elections, but not as much in this race.

“We got involved in this race because we know the community, we know the activists in the community and we feel that we do have a real chance of winning. I don’t play to lose. I don’t play to make political statements. We’re here to win this race like everybody else.”

A write-in candidate, Michael Levinson, is eligible for the on the March 11 special general election. He was not invited to speak at the luncheon, but attended as a paid guest.

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