Pinellas congressional candidates trade barbs on national issues in Clearwater

By Melissa Eichman, Reporter
Last Updated: Tuesday, February 25, 2014, 4:34 PM EST

With two weeks remaining before the District 13 special election, the three candidates squared off for another debate Tuesday morning.

Republican David Jolly, Democrat Alex Sink and Libertarian Lucas Overby all had plenty to say about why they should replace the late C.W. Bill Young in Congress.

The trio wasted little time trading barbs during the hour-and-a-half forum at Clearwater's Capitol Theatre.

Sink questioned Jolly about flip-flopping on issues, including Social Security and Immigration Reform. Jolly accused Sink of scaring seniors with lies about him in her television ads. Meanwhile, Overby said he is the only candidate that truly stands out.

"We need to bring these people out of the shadows so that they're paying into social security, paying into Medicare, they're paying federal income taxes," Sink said on immigration. "So they're not security issues, but they have to earn their way, but we need immigration reform."

The candidates did agree the forum was another good opportunity to state their cases.

"Everytime a person is taxed a dollar by any taxing authority, they are giving away their freedom," Jolly said about taxes. "Their liberty to make their own decisions to somebody else and at the end of the day, I think we need to make is simpler, flatter and frankly bring taxes down, bottom line."

Said Overby on his two counterparts: "I don't think we've made any wrong statements about either of these two, so we haven't actually had to make any corrections, as of yet. I actually don't talk about these guys ever."

A special election is being held March 11 for the seat because of the death of Young last October. Young had held the seat in Congress since 1971. Many voters have already returned their mail-in ballots to the Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections Office.

District 13 is confined to Pinellas County and stretches from Dunedin to the southern end the county, excluding parts of St. Petersburg.

The forum was sponsored by the Clearwater Regional Chamber of Commerce, St. Petersburg Chamber and Tampa Bay Beaches Chamber of Commerce.