Friday, September 21, 2012

Glorioso and Latimer battle it out at Tampa Tiger Bay

Posted By on Fri, Sep 21, 2012 at 3:54 PM

Rich Glorioso & Craig Latimer debate at the Tampa Tiger Bay Club
  • Rich Glorioso & Craig Latimer debate at the Tampa Tiger Bay Club
Plant City Republican Rich Glorioso is gunning for the Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections office, and he thinks he can make the case against Democrat Craig Latimer.

Latimer is the chief-of-staff to the current officer in charge, Dr. Earl Lennard. Lennard announced over a year that he would not run for re-election, paving the way for his top lieutenant to take over the position.

But twice at a Tiger Bay Forum debate in Tampa on Friday, Glorioso referred to a little-noted miscue this past July as an example of how the Hillsborough office is not running as smoothly as Latimer advertises is the case.

"I'll have a quality control issue, so that what happened in the primary election, when a ballot was sent out that left a complete race off it for a House district, I would put a quality control issue in, to make sure that doesn't happen," Glorioso said. "That was only found because a candidate looked at his absentee ballot and his name wasn't even on it, and he was running for election. You didn't hear about that in the paper in a headline."

Actually, the Tampa Bay Times' Caitlin Johnson did write a story, referring to absentee ballots mailed out in New Tampa missing the Florida House District 63 Democratic race between Mark Danish and Z.J. Hafeez.

The problem was said to be a computer glitch.

Latimer and Lennard have a reputation for running a good ship, but then again, the bar was set fairly low after the late Phyllis Busansky defeated Republican Buddy Johnson back in 2008. Busansky passed away in 2009, and Lennard was named by then Governor Charlie Crist to replace her.

Latimer told the Tiger Bay audience about the circumstances that he and Busansky faced after taking the office over in November of 2008, and claimed progress has been made.

"It's obvious that we've returned accountability and confidence and transparency to the office," he said.

The issue of the controversial elections bill passed by the Florida Legislature in 2011 was naturally a topic of conversation, since Glorioso supported the bill while in Tallahassee. In speaking about the bill, the Republican candidate began a bit defensively, saying that "every bill in Tallahassee" has both good and bad things in it.

Glorioso said the portion regarding early voting hours makes sense. The number of days of early voting have been reduced in Florida from 14 to 8, though the maximum number of hours was supposed to remain the same at 96.

He also said the 8 hours of voting during the daytime of early voting "disenfranchises" working men and women (the new law allows up to 12 hours of voting a day, similar to election day), and that a reason he supported the law is that it allows for 6 hours of voting on Sunday. Historically Hillsborough County has never offered early voting on Sundays.

Latimer replied that he found the law to be "a solution to a problem that never existed." He took particular exception to the part of the bill that reduced the amount of time for third-party groups such as the League of Women Voters to turn in new registration cards from two weeks to 48 hours. "It was wrong," he said, and a federal judge agreed earlier that to be the case this summer, overturning that portion of the law.

During the Q&A portion of the event, Democratic Party activist Susan Smith challenged Glorioso about his listed membership with ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council.

The controversial pro-business group has become famous in the past year after the group Media and Democracy for America discovered information regarding over 800 "model" bills and resolutions sponsored in state legislatures across the country with a conservative bent on issues like voting fraud.

"We know they are responsible for voter suppression bills that are happening all over the country," Smith said. "So I want to ask you if that has any reason to do with why you're running for this office? Your membership with them, and if not, do you disavow the group?"

Glorioso said he attended just one ALEC conference, as well as one conference with NCSL, the National Conference on State Legislatures, which he said is considered more of a left-wing organization. The Plant City Republican said he went to both conferences to hear the two different sides on voter education. "You have to understand where they're coming from," he insisted.

CL will have much more on this contest in an upcoming issue.

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