Many of you likely read the opinion column by the Editor of Editorials for the Tampa Bay Times.
IT is important that our campaign team and those who may read this; however, understand that columnists express opinion, not news – they express viewpoints, not knowledge. And the Editor of Editorials is entitled to do so based on as little or as much fact and information as he chooses to incorporate into his opinion.
I am proud to reflect so many of the values and ideals of our Rep. C.W. Bill Young, and yes to consider myself a Bill Young Republican. Many people were close with Mr. Young, including many editors and writers through the years at the Times. Everyone who knew our late Congressman assigned their ownopinions and interpretations to his every decision, his priorities, his projects, and his ideology. And those opinions were subjective for each individual.
The Editor’s interpretation of Mr. Young’s ideology and view of public service, as well as his assumptions of my ideology and view of public service, are subjective interpretations he is entitled to, but not exclusively entitled to. So allow me to address some of the areas in which I disagree with the Editor’s view both of Mr. Young and of myself, and to further expand on my work and experience with Mr. Young for the benefit of our campaign supporters.
First, Mr. Young was Pinellas County. From the time he moved to Pinellas Park at a young age, he always called Pinellas County home – not Tampa Bay, not the region – but Pinellas County. He taught me the lesson that the House of Representatives is the one office in the entire federal government where you have to beelected by your neighbors and your community. You cannot be appointed. He was proud to teach thousands of school children that would come through his office that he was a Member of that special legislative body referred to as ‘the people’s house’.
And so yes, Pinellas County should be represented by someone from Pinellas County. That is how the founders intended it. Article I of the Constitution clearly intends that the lower chamber be the body of representation closest to the people. No editorial column can ever overcome that, just as no editorial can ever justify the false pretense of my opponent’s temporary residency.
The Editor confuses this basic principle of local representation, either mistakenly or with intent, with whether a local Representative should support regional initiatives. The two are not mutually exclusive and I suspect he knows that. Mr. Young was both proud to represent his home county and proud to support regional initiatives like those cited in the column.
I know because I was there. And if elected I would do the same. The Editor cites the Congressman’s support for the regional water reservoir that he secured funding for, and suggests I would not have the same conviction for regional advocacy. The problem with this suggestion is that it leaves out a very important point - that I was part of the staff team that assisted Mr. Young on funding for this project, and I was there at the reservoir the day Mr. Young cut the ribbon and spoke eloquently about the history of water wars. Similarly, on projects such as MacDill Air Force Base, I was likewise there when Mr. Young secured additional Air Force tankers for the base as well as additional infrastructure funding for U.S. Special Operations Command and U.S. Central Command, and I was there on base for meetings and ceremonies commemorating each. When Mr. Young worked to support additional research funding and funding for the ROTC at the University of South Florida main campus in Tampa, I was there when the funding was secured and I was then on campus for the ceremonies and commemorations. When Mr. Young worked with local leadership to help relocate Stanford Research International to the USF Bayboro campus in downtown St. Petersburg, or when he joined to cut the ribbon on the first residential hall at USF St. Petersburg, I was there, despite those facilities now being outside CD13.
While I do insist that someone from Pinellas should be elected to represent Pinellas, I have never suggested our next Member of Congress should not look to appropriately advocate for our region. In fact, the question of regional representation (specifically priorities at MacDill and research priorities at the University of South Florida) were specifically discussed in my interview with the editorial board of the Tampa Tribune. I pledged my support at that time for continuing Mr. Young’s advocacy for these important regional institutions, and the Tribune noted this in their recommendation of my candidacy. This matter was never asked during my interview with the Tampa Bay Times nor in any of my dozens of interviews since with the Times, however, so his suggestion is unfortunately not based on conversation or fact, but solely on assumptions that he has incorrectly made.
Secondly, it is true that I am running against the hand-picked candidate of the Washington establishment, and I am doing so as someone who has worked on behalf of the interests of this county for nearly twenty years, both here at home and in Washington DC. I went to work with Mr. Young essentially right out of college and until his passing worked on his behalf and behalf of this county and this region both as Congressional staff and in private practice. Much of my work for Mr. Young and in private practice took me to Washington. That is where the federal government sits. To suggest that my work in Washington on behalf of this area somehow undermines my residency or ties to the community here would similarly call into question the residency of all 435 sitting Members of the House of Representatives and all 100 Members of the United States Senate. It’s an intellectually dishonest suggestion.
Third, it is possible to support the local defense and manufacturing industry without earmarks. The federal budget process is complex and always includes forward looking out-year budget planning for programs of record. Protecting jobs through the budget process does not require earmarks, it requires a specialized knowledge of the process and a dogged determination to fight for this district. The last year of Congressional earmarks was 2010. Mr. Young was able to continue to sustain the defense industry base here long after earmarks because he understood the process. The Editor seems ready to throw in the towel on sustaining local jobs now that Mr. Young is gone. I’m not willing to do so. I intend to use every bit of my experience and understanding of the federal budget process to protect and grow both skilled and unskilled jobs here in Pinellas County.
Finally, on Obamacare, yes I favor repeal immediately, as did Mr. Young. However, I have also said in multiple media interviews that we simply cannot be the party of ‘no’. In fact, in an interview with the media on election night that included the Times, as well as in a public candidate forum attended by over 200 people in Pinellas Park and covered widely by print media, I suggested we need to create a statutory construct for healthcare that resembles the model of less regulation and less government intrusion used for term life insurance. I favor exploring a model that allows a young person to purchase an affordable lifetime plan, beginning at an early age, with actuarially sound price stability, portable across state lines, decoupled from employers but eligible for employer reimbursement, and not eligible to be canceled based on intervening health events. This is done by less government regulation and less government control. The current big government restrictions on health care plans stands in the way of a model like the one above. This is a concept I have discussed publicly and in the media. It is disappointing that the Editor either missed this or chose to ignore it before suggesting I had no alternative to Obamacare.
Pinellas County is a better place because of the long legacy and current award-winning journalism at the Times. But opinion pieces sometimes deserve responses.
The Editor clearly believes my opponent is the right choice on March 11. He is entitled to that opinion. The voters and residents of Pinellas County and District 13 are also entitled to theirs.
As many of you know, I got into this race not to seek the affirmation or approval of political machines or of the press. I got into this race because I believe the voters will affirm our stand on the issues most important to this district and the nation. That remains the guiding principle of this campaign, and that is the principle on which we will win on March 11.
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