Barrage of attack ads in Pinellas Congressional race obscures the issues

Sink and Jolly have clear differences

TAMPA, Fla. - When Bill Young died last year, he left a legacy of service and a huge political void. Now Republicans and Democrats are pouring millions into the race for his open seat, most of it on a non-stop barrage of attack ads for and against Democrat Alex Sink and Republican David Jolly.

The Affordable Care Act is a clear fault line. Sink defends the provisions she feels are good, particularly for older voters, and promises to fix the flaws. Jolly, a former Young staffer and lobbyist, says the Supreme Court's ruling upholding Obamacare was a mistake and he wants it repealed.

"Laws can always be changed," Jolly said. "Obamacare was wrong from the start. I think it should be changed."

On immigration, Sink supports the law already passed in the senate that provides a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants, including children brought to the United States by their parents.

"You don't penalize children for something they weren't responsible for. They ought to have a path to become productive members of society and become citizens eventually," Sink said.

Jolly takes a harder line.

"To suggest we can turn a blind eye to those who have broken the law one way or another and reward them with a pathway to citizenship, I have a problem with that," Jolly said.

The differences on other issues are not as stark. On dropping the trade and travel against Cuba, which could open economic opportunities in Florida, both candidates say eventually but not just yet.

"I'm going to be open minded, as many of my Cuban American friends acknowledge that for 50 years we've had this very restrictive policy that hasn't worked," Sink said.

"I think we will be better off having normalized relations. I think the people of Cuba, the people of Florida, will be better off as well. I simply don't trust the current regime," Jolly said.

On the ballot initiative to legalize medical marijuana in Florida, Sink is leaning in favor but wants to do more research.

Jolly flatly opposes the initiative.

"This is very easy for me. If it is truly medical then it belongs in the FDA (Food and Drug Administration). Let's talk about reforming the FDA. I don't believe the voters should make medical decisions," Jolly said.    

And if the negative ads have turned you against both major party candidates, there's a Libertarian in the race dedicated to a hands-off philosophy of government.

"What can we do to decrease taxation? What can we do to decrease the overall size of the federal government? What can we try to make spending smarter, to take less from the taxpayer?" said Lucas Overby, a commercial diver running on the Libertarian ticket.

The candidates agree on at least one thing: The need to bring flood insurance rates back down for homeowners recently hit by huge increases.

The special election is March 11. The winner will have to defend their seat in the regular election in November.

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