Health-care partisan in close race!
We can’t let Gayle Harrell win! What do we need to do to help Fetteman?
Health-care partisan in close race
By Michael Peltier
9/1/2010 © The News Service of Florida
It will be incumbent versus former incumbent as two candidates face off in the politically shifting sands of House District 81 where Rep. Adam Fetterman, D-Port St. Lucie, will defend his seat against Republican challenger Gayle Harrell in a post-term limit showdown that will be one of the most watched in the state. Harrell, who held the seat for eight years, was termed out in 2008. A veteran campaigner, Harrell last ran unsuccessfully in 2008, losing by 1,000 votes to fellow Republican - now U.S. Rep. - Tom Rooney in the Congressional District 16 primary.
During her tenure in Tallahassee, she often sided with the medical profession on issues such as insurance mandates and malpractice. Her husband is a physician, and during her House tenure, Harrell championed a series of health care issues that generally favored physicians and health care providers, including a proposal making it easier for hospitals to expand open-heart surgery units and other specialty services.
Fetterman, the general counsel for the St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office, was an increasingly visible Democratic member during his freshman term, backing a slate of issues that included lifting the statute of limitations on certain sexual crimes involving children. He also became a vocal opponent to Republican efforts to relax class size requirements.
The battleground continues to change. House District 81, which encompasses portions of northern Martin County and the Port St. Lucie area, is trending Democratic. In 2008, registered Republicans outnumber Democrats by a 39.4 percent to 37.6 percent margin, with 18.6 with no major party affiliation.
As of July 2010, the GOP lead among active voters had shrunk to 0.5 percent. The shift is most pronounced in St. Lucie County; in Martin County, registered Republicans outnumber Democrats nearly 2 to 1, but Martin has only about a third of the voters in the district.
Both campaigns are well-funded, with Fetterman leading the contribution race by a $160,000 to $119,000 margin over Harrell for the period ending Aug. 19. Given such relative parity, it may come down to campaign organization, turnout and voter attitude on issues further up the ticket.
--News Service of Florida, which covers the capital, is available by subscription. This article is reprinted by permission.