The mute button for many television viewers has never been used more through the barrage of political ads for everything from the governor’s race, to even Pasco County Commission.
But as early voting continues through this weekend, and on Election Day itself Nov. 4, all of that is about to come to an end.
The governor’s race remains too close to call, while more local races like the county commission have a history of fueling upsets.
It’s impossible to condense the entire political season into a single story, so here are some of the highlights of major candidates on the ballot.
Be sure to get the latest election news Nov. 4 on our website at LakerLutzNews.com, and aftermath coverage in our Nov. 12 print edition of The Laker/Lutz News.
GOVERNOR AND LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR
Rick Scott, Republican
Has he done enough to win a second term as governor? Or is Florida ready to look to its recent past and bring in a familiar replacement?
Those are the questions Gov. Scott has to answer as he touts the number of jobs created during his first term, and where the state is heading economically into the future.
It’s been a virtual dead heat for Scott and his main opponent, and both have engaged in a lot of mudslinging that some political analysts say may discourage more voters from going to the polls than welcome them.
Scott struggled in his first couple years to connect with people, including media, and suffered a low approval rating until this past year when he worked to fix it. But issues like high-speed rail (which he killed) and his time as the head of a major hospital chain continue to provide fodder for Democrats.
Charlie Crist, Democrat
He tried being governor once, and ended up presiding over one of the worst economic downturns in history, where hundreds of thousands of jobs were lost.
But if that wasn’t difficult enough to overcome, Crist also has to convince voters he’s now a Democrat after a lifetime of being a Republican, which also means he’s changed his stance on a number of hot-button political issues.
Crist entered a race where the incumbent was certainly vulnerable, but it’s tough to tell if the $9 million he’s raised through last week is enough to top the deep pockets of the current governor.
Pam Bondi, Republican
She’s not afraid to take a stand and express her opinion, and it seems that’s what voters liked about Bondi when they first elected her to office in 2010.
Yet, her firm stance on controversial issues could pose some problems, especially as the state fought against the federal Affordable Care Act, and continues to defend its ban of gay marriage, which is now legal in most other states.
Bondi has raised $2.2 million in her re-election bid through last week.
George Sheldon, Democrat
He’s raised far less money than his opponent, but Sheldon — an attorney and government administrator on both the state and federal level — jumped into this race because he says the current attorney general has mishandled her responsibilities.
He feels there’s a disconnect between Bondi’s fight for the ban on gay marriage and her battle over the Affordable Care Act, saying that while marriage might be defending a law, the program informally called Obamacare also is the law of the land.
Sheldon has raised $760,000 through last week.
STATE REPRESENTATIVE, DISTRICT 38
Danny Burgess, Republican
He became the youngest Zephyrhills councilman at 18, and was the youngest mayor at 27. And he’s raised nearly $142,000 to try to replace Will Weatherford in Tallahassee.
Many Republicans look at Burgess as the future of the party, but opponents fear he lacks specific plans to help Pasco County overcome some serious growing pains.
Read more about Burgess at tinyurl.com/DannyBurgess.
Beverly Ledbetter, Democrat
After spending more than three decades as an educator in Pasco County’s school system, Ledbetter says she’s ready to use her experience in the state House.
While she has worked with the teachers union quite extensively, Ledbetter has not held any public office before. However, she is getting advice from her husband, Michael Ledbetter, who was a Pasco County commissioner in the 1970s.
But it could be a tough battle, as she’s raised just $34,000 through last week.
Read more about Ledbetter at tinyurl.com/BeverlyLedbetter.
COUNTY COMMISSIONER, DISTRICT 2
Mike Moore, Republican
He easily moved past a busy primary against two opponents — one who was a former state legislator — and has raised some serious cash: $171,000.
But if history is a guide, county commission races don’t always go to the best-funded campaigns.
Moore has run primarily on job creation, using his experience as an entrepreneur to help get face time with large corporations who might consider moving to Pasco County. Yet, he brings a personality far different from the woman who’s held the office the past two decades, Pat Mulieri, and that might turn off some voters.
Read more about Moore at tinyurl.com/MikeMoorePasco.
Erika Jean Remsberg, Democrat
She’s raised less than $11,000 in her race to become the first Democrat on the county commission since 2010, but Remsberg has certainly made her mark.
In fact, she won the endorsement of Mulieri, the retiring county commissioner who isn’t even a member of the same political party.
Remsberg is hoping for a major grassroots boost to propel her to victory, but the social worker knows it will be tough. Plus, it’s hard to tell how much she can accomplish as a political minority on a board with its own agenda.
Read more about Remsberg at tinyurl.com/ErikaRemsberg.
CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT No. 1
Water and Land Conservation – Dedicates funds to acquire and restore Florida conservation and recreation lands.
This amendment to the state constitution would move money already collected through an existing excise tax into a fund that would help purchase more conservation lands in the state.
The goal would be to help improve the environment and water quality, supporters say, and help provide a boost to the growing ecotourism movement as well.
Although there are no groups organized to oppose this amendment, some lawmakers and individuals feel this is an overreach of the constitutional amendment process, and could be more effective as a standard law through legislators.
CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT No. 2
Use of marijuana for certain medical conditions.
By far the most controversial measure on the ballot, which would have likely received far more attention if it weren’t for the tight gubernatorial race.
If passed, this amendment would open Florida up to allowing the use of marijuana for specific health conditions, under the guidance of a doctor.
The battle over medical marijuana has played out in several states already, with proponents saying this is a move of compassion for those who would suffer otherwise. Opponents, however, call this a loophole to try and legalize the drug for everyone, especially since other states like California have very loose restrictions on who qualifies for the program.
CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT No. 3
Prospective appointment of certain judicial vacancies.
This is probably the least known of the three amendments on the ballot, but one that could have significant impact on the state in future years.
Right now, Florida Supreme Court justices have terms that run the same time as the governor, meaning they are typically chosen by a new governor, rather than an outgoing governor.
If this amendment passes, the winner of Tuesday’s gubernatorial election will likely appoint three justices to the state supreme court before he leaves office in 2019. However, if the amendment fails, then the system will remain allowing the winner of the 2018 election to make that appointment.
Published October 29, 2014
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