U.S. Senate candidate Mike McCalister lists his priorities at Suncoast Tiger Bay

09/02/11 Janelle Irwin
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U.S. Senate candidate Mike McCalister named off a laundry list of policies he thinks should be implemented in Washington during a speech at a Suncoast Tiger Bay Club today. The self proclaimed tea partier told members of the non-partisan political club his opinions on policies ranging from education to environmental issues. McCalister focused on those issues instead of his recent bout of negative media attention.

But that’s not stopping him from running for political office. The Republican is learning some tough lessons as he goes though. The St. Petersburg Times and Miami Herald have shed light on some gaffe moves made by the senate hopeful, including wearing his army-issued uniform to a political fundraiser in February, a military blunder if there ever was one. But McCalister showed up today in civilian clothes. He didn’t mention the media blunders too much, but did say he’s putting it behind him and moving on with his campaign.

McCalister is now focusing on the staples of his campaign. Based on his bullet-pointed speech though, it’s hard to say what issues he’s most focused. He called Islam a national threat. He said people he calls illegal immigrants should be deported. And he said liberals are reluctant to recognize the problems with America. MacKenzie Ligas student in the criminal justice program at Pinellas Park High asked him about government funding for higher education.

He answered her, though it may not have been the response she expected.

Ray Neri is a president of a community association in St. Petersburg. He said he isn’t a big fan of party politics.

Protecting Florida’s wetlands is a hot topic. Especially after presidential hopeful Michele Bachman said she supported drilling in the Everglades. McCalister skirted the issue, but said he didn’t support private property being taken by government agencies for preservation. Tiger Bay member David Zachem said he kept track of McCalister’s false statements, some of which were about the Everglades.

Zachem hasn’t decided who will get his vote even though incumbent Bill Nelson is a friend of his. He did say he doesn’t see McCalister as much of a political force in this race.

According to the Florida Division of Elections website, there are ten other GOP candidates in the race.

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