Pinellas Congressional candidate Alex Sink gets in last-minute campaign push

03/10/14 Janelle Irwin
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Tags: Alex Sink, David Jolly, Lucas Overby, Bill Young, Congress, Pinellas County, CD 13


Congressional candidate Alex Sink (D-FL) thanks canvassing volunteers for knocking on doors on the last day of campaigning.

photo by Janelle Irwin

Candidates are winding up their campaigns for Pinellas County’s Congressional seat. Alex Sink, the Democratic nominee, started the final day before the election at a home in Dunedin where she ushered off more than two dozen volunteers to knock on doors.

“Well, dozens of workers here, but we literally have hundreds and hundreds of volunteers throughout the district who have been making phone calls. We made 20,000 door knocks over the weekend. That’s a pretty impressive number and we’ve made hundreds of thousands of phone calls over the course of the campaign.”

Florida's Congressional District 13 race between frontrunners Sink and David Jolly is expected to be a close one. But Sink may be starting off Election Day in the hole. The district has slightly more Republicans than Democrats and so far, more Republicans have turned in mail ballots than Democrats. Despite the way that looks though, Sink says she doesn’t expect to lose.

“The level of enthusiasm for our campaign and enormous numbers of registered Republicans have told us that they’re voting for me because they believe that I am the person who represents the moderate values of the people of this district. I just happen to be running against a Republican who has very extreme positions on a number of issues that are not reflective of the values of the people of Pinellas County.”

That’s very true for Susan Adger. She’s the Dunedin homeowner who opened her home to Sink and campaign volunteers.

“Just the abortion issue alone would be enough to send me running from any candidate like David Jolly.”

Jolly has said he supports overturning Roe v. Wade, which could further restrict abortion access. That’s a stance highly unpopular among Democrats, Libertarians and even some moderate Republicans. He’s also in favor of reforming the nation’s Medicare and Social Security programs; another concern among some voters in a county heavy with seniors. Sink also faces Libertarian Lucas Overby. Overby told WMNF in an interview earlier in the campaign that he thinks there are more would-be Sink supporters voting for him than voters who would have supported Jolly. That’s something Adger, the Dunedin homeowner, says may be a threat.

“He had some good things to say, but he also had some things I really disagreed with.”

Despite the chance he could “steal” votes, Overby isn’t considered a contender against Sink and Jolly who, according to the Center for Responsive Journalism, have amassed nearly $9 million worth of attack ads from outside groups.

“Yes, it’s a stunning number and it’s ridiculous and it’s over the top and I just, it’s hard to know what to say about all this outside spending that’s happened in this race.”

But Patty Perkey, a campaign volunteer who has spent hours on the phone with voters, says the ads by outside groups like the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and American Crossroads aren’t really helping either candidate.

“The commercials from the outside interests have really, I think, not accurately portrayed any of the political candidate’s views on issues.”

That’s why Sink says it’s so important to reach voters personally.

“We went through periods of times when there was just a lot of television in the past for campaigns and I think what we have certainly learned and I personally have learned from experience is that there is nothing that beats having volunteers out knocking on doors, making phone calls and getting back to that pure, grassroots, voter to voter, neighbor to neighbor contact.”

Sink will spend part of Monday calling undecided voters after she takes in part of a Spring Training baseball game.

The Republican, Jolly, will be at a Pinellas County Republican Executive Committee meeting in Clearwater at 7 p.m. Monday. Jolly will vote in his precinct in Indian Shores Tuesday at 8:30 a.m. Sink voted by mail.

The Sink campaign party Tuesday night will be at the Hilton in Carillon Park. Jolly will be at the Sheraton in Sand Key.

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