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Democrat McCart to join House race

By JENNIFER GOLDBLATT, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published August 22, 2002

NEW PORT RICHEY -- Republican Heather Fiorentino will have a Democratic opponent for the state House District 46 seat, after all.

Craig McCart, executive director of the Sertoma Speech and Hearing Foundation of Florida and a former standup comic, plans to run for the seat, challenging two-term incumbent Fiorentino and Libertarian Jon Kueny.

McCart, 51, said he wants to get help for seniors coping with high prescription drug costs and to make sure that uninsured children have access to health care.

"I've been very actively involved in the community for most of my life," he said Wednesday. "I thought this was an opportunity to move to a different level in working for the best interests in west Pasco."

Real estate broker Mike Webb originally was set to carry the Democratic flag in the race. But he withdrew this month due to his wife's illness.

"We're really excited that we're going to have a candidate in the District 46 race," said LaVaunne Miller, chairperson of the Pasco County Democratic Executive Committee.

"His qualifications and community service seem to be outstanding," Miller said.

Fiorentino said that it was good to have another candidate in the race "to give people a choice.

"With Craig in the race, we'll have some good laughs."

Added Kueny: "Let's talk the issues and let the voters decide."

McCart has lived in west Pasco since he was a child. He graduated from Gulf High School in 1968. He was a full-time standup comic for 14 years. Since 1997, he has worked for Sertoma, which strives to get care for people with low to moderate incomes who are speech- and hearing-impaired.

McCart has been involved in community groups and activities such as the West Pasco Chamber of Commerce and the Hudson Seafest. In 1994, he ran unsuccessfully for Pasco County School Board.

McCart and his wife, Mary Lou, live in Hudson. They have three children: Amy, 26, Josh, 22, and Ben, 18.

McCart is planning to qualify by petition. He must submit 111 signatures to Pasco's supervisor of elections by Sept. 3.

If another Democratic candidate qualifies, there will be a special primary Sept. 24. The general election is Nov. 5.

-- Jennifer Goldblatt can be reached in west Pasco at 869-6229 or toll-free at 1-800-333-7505, ext. 6229. Her e-mail address is goldblatt@sptimes.com.

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