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District 54: Democrat

Published October 21, 2006


Betsy Valentine

Democrats don't usually bother trying to win this heavily Republican district along the coast from Clearwater to Tierra Verde. But Betsy Valentine, a retired clinical psychologist who says she can build bipartisan consensus, makes a plausible case.

Valentine, 65, has experience in government and the private sector. She offers a mainstream agenda: improve education by upgrading prekindergarten, increasing teacher pay and de-emphasizing the FCAT; protect the coast from oil drilling and seek energy alternatives; provide better health care for poor children; and deal with rising property taxes in part by stopping appraisers from treating small beach motels as big condos.

The Republican in this race is James Frishe, 57, who served in the House from 1984-90. His legislative experience is an asset, but some of his views are not. He wants to ratchet up the stakes on high-stakes testing, even though he supports vouchers for private schools that don't use the FCAT. His recent Christian Coalition questionnaire puts him on the outer edge of many social issues: opposing embryonic stem cell research; opposing civil unions for same-sex couples; opposing abortion even in cases of rape, incest and, possibly, risk of the mother's death. (He writes: "How do we choose which life to save?")

Valentine brings a refreshing enthusiasm. In Florida House District 54, the Times recommends Betsy Valentine.

[Last modified October 21, 2006, 02:09:16]

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