Prior to first debate, David Jolly still says Alex Sink owes voters more


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Political junkies are eagerly awaiting tonight's first debate in the March 11 special election for Florida's 13th Congressional district.

Better watch closely, though, because as currently scheduled there may be only one other time Alex Sink and David Jolly will discuss the issues in front of voters (libertarian candidate Lucas Overby will also participate tonight). That's because Sink has rejected most of the other debates proposed by various neighborhood and civic associations.

"I think the voters deserve to hear in a public forum every day from us now until March 11," Jolly said Monday afternoon.

Jolly was speaking at EEI Manufacturing in Clearwater, where he received an endorsement from Rob Engstrom, vice president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Jolly said that he has accepted every invitation that has been requested "because the voters deserve that."

However, Richard McDaniel, president of the Disston Heights Civic Association, informed CL over the weekend that Jolly was no longer going to participate in that group's debate scheduled for February 11, saying that his participation was based upon Sink showing up. But a Jolly staffer informed this reporter today that although another forum was scheduled for that evening (at which Sink also has said she will not appear), Jolly could still attempt to make the Disston Heights meeting.

As of now, the Sink camp has agreed to participate in Monday's Tampa Bay Times/Bay News 9 forum and to debate Jolly on WEDU's Florida This Week. Originally she had agreed to participate in a Clearwater Chamber of Commerce event, but that's apparently morphed into a more informal gathering, rather than a debate.

Sink campaign spokeswoman Ashley Walker issued this statement re Jolly's comments about Sink not participating in debates:

"This is a dishonest complaint just hours before Alex Sink and Washington Lobbyist David Jolly are meeting for a debate. Alex is constantly meeting with Pinellas residents and sharing her commitment to bringing Republicans and Democrats together to focus on solving problems that matter. But we expect nothing less from an untrustworthy lobbyist like Jolly who is willing to say anything to distract from his own record of making seniors pay more."

The Chamber's Engstrom, in making his endorsement, invoked a favorite boogie-woman for conservatives, former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, as if her name would give voters all the motivation they need to vote GOP next month.

"Although Alex Sink claims to be pro-business, the facts tell a different story. Alex Sink represents another vote for Nancy Pelosi in the U.S. House," Engstrom said, adding that Sink also supports the Affordable Care Act and gets money from trial lawyers.

Engstrom and Jolly spoke before a few dozen supporters, campaign staffers and employees of EEI.

The Democratic Congressional Committee sent a blast to reporters hours before the debate, listing a number of articles from reporters and good government-based officials who have questioned Jolly's explanations for apparently filing to lobby for some unpopular causes, such as offshore drilling and a group that wants to privatize Social Security.


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