Mitch Perry Report 9.14.12 - the arrogance of unaccountable incumbents

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It was officially announced on Thursday that U.S. Senate candidates Bill Nelson & Connie Mack IV will debate on October 17 at Nova Southeastern University in Davie. They'll also debate later in October in Tampa, but not with the Tampa Bay Times as sponsor. That's because Congressman Mack objects to the Tampa Bay daily's participation, based on his complaints that somehow the paper's coverage of him earlier this year was unfair.

The Oct.17 event will be the first time either candidate has debated this year. Mack was scheduled to participate in debates during his GOP primary, but just decided with such a large lead, he didn't have to.

Two years ago, Hillsborough County Democratic Congresswoman Kathy Castor refused to engage in a one-on-one debate with her then challenger, Republican Mike Prendergast.

And this summer, Pinellas Congressman Bill Young has refused on multiple occasions to engage in debates with his Democratic challenger, Jessica Ehrlich, an issue that has frustrated the 38-year-old attorney trying to do something no other Democrat has done to Young in four decades. That would be to defeat him.

As the Times Craig Pittman reports this morning, Young doesn't really give a damn that he's not allowing the voters in his district the chance to compare and contrast. The fact is, Young hasn't debated a candidate in 20 years, because apparently it's beneath him.

And the fact is, why wouldn't he have such an arrogant attitude? Not once has it hurt him in the polls. In fact, 1992 was the last time any candidate got over 40 percent against him. Though the district voted for Barack Obama in 2008, he won easily over Democrat Charlie Justice in 2010, and (apparently) internal polling shows him defeating Ehrlich easily in 2012.

The reason Young isn't worried is because a good number of Democrats continue to vote for him every two years. The district's demographics have changed over the years, but Young hasn't absorbed any of that change, because Democrats continue to vote for him. Until he fears that won't be the case, he apparently has decided the whole thing would be waste of his time.

Is it good for the body politic that he does this? No. But it wasn't when Castor shunned Pendergast two years ago, nor was it good for GOP Senate voters when Mack blew off his debate opportunities this summer. Will it matter this fall? Only if some of those Democrats who regularly check off Young's name on their ballot every two years decide not to this year. Then, apparently, and only then, will Young deign to submit to debating the issues with his Democratic challenger, if he runs again.

In the news - in the wake of the violence in the Middle East against representatives of the American government, some Republicans and neoconservatives are blasting President Obama's approach to Egypt. Neocons like Frank Gaffney, who was in Tampa earlier this week.

We have to admit the little local television news we watch usually comes off those stations websites after their initial reports. Somebody who knows all too well how the sausage is made, so to speak, former Newschannel 8 reporter Samara Sodos, shares her feelings on the industry as she moves on to becoming a public information officer with the Hillsborough County Sheriff's office.

And last but not least, CL has the latest local report this week regarding the surveillance cameras currently located in downtown Tampa for the RNC. The City Council discusses what to do with the cameras next week.

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