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Cramming time for those casting ballots Election Day

Posted Feb 27, 2014 by Dennis Joyce

Updated Feb 27, 2014 at 10:49 AM

If you’ve tuned out the noise leading up to the special election to fill the seat of the late U.S. Rep Bill Young, you’re in good company.

Even the candidates have turned up their noses at the nasty nature of their television commercials.

But at some point, with Election Day Tuesday, March 11, you’ll need to educate yourself on which of the three contenders is your man or woman.

We’re here to help.

Click here for the Cliff’s Notes version of race coverage by The St. Petersburg Tribune/The Tampa Tribune.

You can scroll through brief summaries of all our articles and click a headline, if you like, to get the complete story.

Among the items there that can help you decide how to vote are our recent candidate profiles of David Jolly, Alex Sink and Lucas Overby, and our Ad Watch stories breaking down all that noise you’re hearing on the tube.


StPetePolls says Sink leading among early voters

Posted Feb 26, 2014 by William March

Updated Feb 26, 2014 at 06:51 PM

A poll that sought out Pinellas County voters who have already voted or are likely to vote in the special election in congressional district 13 says Alex Sink has a lead over David Jolly.

The poll by StPetePolls, conducted Feb. 25, includes responses of 813 people who already have voted, and 456 more who say they expect to. It gave Democratic nominee Alex Sink a 50-45 percent lead over Republican David Jolly, with 5 percent going to Libertarian Lucas Overby.

The overall sample should have an error margin of 2.8 percentage points, according to the pollster.

Previous polls in the race have been mixed as to the outcome, but consistent in showing narrow margins in the race.

Update: Scott says he’d veto Az anti-gay rights bill

Posted Feb 26, 2014 by William March

Updated Feb 26, 2014 at 06:40 PM

Gov. Rick Scott, who declined in a television interview earlier today to say whether he’d support an anti-gay rights bill of the kind recently passed in Arizona, has now issued a statement he’d veto it.

The law would allow businesses to deny services to gay and lesbian couples because of the business owner’s religious beliefs.

A statement from Scott issued a few minutes ago by his press office:

“I don’t want to tell Governor Brewer what to do, she can do what’s best for her state. From my understanding of that bill, I would veto it in Florida because it seems unnecessary.

“In Florida we are focused on economic growth, and not on things that divide us. We are for freedom here in Florida.  And we want everyone to come here, create jobs, and live in freedom, and that includes religious liberty.

“I am very much opposed to forcing anyone to violate their conscience or their religious beliefs, and of course, I’m very much opposed to discrimination. As a society, we need to spend more time learning to love and tolerate each other, and less time trying to win arguments in courts of law. Other states can spend their time fighting over issues like this, but in Florida we are laser focused on creating jobs and opportunities. It’s working, and we need to keep it going and will not get distracted by this or anything else.”

Scott’s initial comments to interviewer Chuck Todd on MSNBC drew quick criticism from Democrats including likely nominee for governor Charlie Crist.

Az anti-gay rights law enters Fl governor’s race

Posted Feb 26, 2014 by William March

Updated Feb 26, 2014 at 06:38 PM

In 2010, an anti-illegal immigration law in Arizona was an issue in the Florida governor’s race. This year, it looks as if an Arizona anti-gay rights law could be.

Democrats including Charlie Crist, the likely nominee to run against Republican Gov. Rick Scott, are playing up Scott’s refusal on a national television interview to say whether he supports or opposes the Arizona law.

The law would allow businesses to deny services to gay and lesbian couples because of the business owner’s religious beliefs.

“I’ve not seen that bill ... I haven’t seen the bill,” Scott said repeatedly when asked by MSNBC interviewer Chuck Todd whether he would favor such a bill or whether religious beliefs are a legitimate reason to discriminate against homosexuals. See it here at about the 10-minute mark in the video labelled, “Rick Scott talks run for reelection.”

The state Democratic Party quickly sent out a press release bashing Scott, and Crist’s campaign followed up with a statement: “Discrimination has no place in America. None in Arizona. None in Florida. ... The fact that Governor Scott won’t take a stand on whether Governor Brewer should veto the Arizona discrimination law is stunning.  We should always be sending the message that Florida is open for all of our residents, open for all tourists and open for all businesses.”

Arizona business interests are now urging Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer to veto the law, saying it couid harm tourism and economic growth, and even some Republicans ins the GOP-dominated legislature that passed it have said they’re having second thoughts.

Gaetz, Weatherford: No major environmental actions coming in session

Posted Feb 25, 2014 by William March

Updated Feb 25, 2014 at 07:22 PM

Legislative leaders Don Gaetz and Will Weatherford said they don’t foresee any major legislation for protecting Florida water sources passing in this session of the state Legislature, in part because they intend to leave the field clear for incoming state Senate President Andy Gardiner and House Speaker Steve Crisafulli.

Asked by the Tampa Tribune editorial board Tuesday whether the Legislature is likely to deal with protecting springs and water sources from pollution, Weatherford, House speaker and a Wesley Chapel Republican, said the Legislature is prepared to devote “significant resources focussed on water issues,” but added, “We don’t have the time and the resources and the ability to address all of them.”

Weatherford mentioned issues “in our rivers and springs, issues in Lake Okeechobee and the Indian River Lagoon ... the Appalachicola River,” but said, “I don’t think this will be the year to attempt to solve every water problem Florida faces.”

Weatherford said Crisafulli, R-Merritt Island, and Gardiner, R-Orlando, “would like the benefit of some time and study and piloting between now and next session to gear up for some of those other, more complex challenges ... it’s a multi-year approach.”

Gaetz, a Niceville Republican and state Senate president, said the environment is “an area our successors have already staked out ... We don’t want to park on Speaker Crisafulli and Andy Gardiner’s dime.”