At St. Pete Beach appearance, Alex Sink calls David Jolly "too extreme" for Pinellas Republicans

Sink goes on the offensive in the race for C.W. Bill Young's vacant House seat.

Over the weekend, Alex Sink began airing ads assailing her CD13 GOP opponent David Jolly for his lobbying background. And she doesn't intend to relent anytime soon. With early voting by mail scheduled to begin next week, Sink is getting more aggressive in the campaign for the Pinellas County seat left open by the death of Bill Young last fall.

"When I was serving you as your elected Chief Financial Officer in Tallahassee, fighting for protection of seniors against insurance scams, fighting to reduce budgets and find ways to eliminate government waste, my opponent was peddling his influence in the halls of Congress and hiring himself out to the highest bidder with his hand out," Sink told several dozen supporters crammed inside a room at the Alden Suites motel on Gulf Boulevard in St. Pete Beach Saturday night, at a Pinellas County Democrats "Victory Fund Party."

She went on to tell her supporters that they need to work hard to bring out Democrats to the polls. "We need the voters in our district to understand that there really is a stark choice between Alex Sink and David Jolly," Sink said.

A short time after her speech, she told this reporter that she intends to stay on the offensive.

"It’s part of his biography," she told CL regarding Jolly's professional career. "I think there’s a huge contrast between what he’s decided to do and how he’s decided to live his life and, look, he was a congressional staffer and he did what a lot of congressional staffers do. They just go through that revolving door and cross the street over to K Street and peddle their influence."

Jolly's background as a lobbyist in Washington has been an issue ever since he entered the race in early November, with Clearwater state Senator Jack Latvala making it clear he didn't think Pinellas Republicans' first choice to succeed Young should be a "D.C. lobbyist." But the only Republican to step up and challenge Jolly in the primary — state Representative Kathleen Peters — failed to make his past lobbying much of an issue. In fact, the one time she did bring it up, when she told reporters that Jolly had lobbied for Obamacare, it turned out the charge lacked merit.

But Democrats feel they have scored with the allegation that Jolly lobbied for offshore drilling interests. On a lobbyist disclosure form, Jolly had listed an energy independence proposal that supported offshore drilling as a subject of his activity, as noted by PolitiFact. When called out on that, Jolly said he had done so because he "had a practice of always over-complying." That was also his response when asked about a report that he worked for a group supporting the privatization of Social Security, another sensitive subject in Pinellas County.

"Sounded like BS to me," Sink said dismissively after being asked about Jolly's explanations. "He lobbied for a client that wanted to privatize Social Security and he filled out a form that said he was lobbying for oil drilling," she said, adding, "The Republicans that I'm talking to — and I have many Republican friends for 20 years — they are telling me he is too extreme for Pinellas Republicans."

Sink also announced on Saturday night that she is looking at opening a fourth campaign office, perhaps somewhere on Central Avenue in St. Petersburg, to go along with her other offices in Dunedin, Seminole and Clearwater.

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