They are close on issues, but still very different
By AARON SHAROCKMAN
Published October 25, 2006
The two men running to replace Attorney General Charlie Crist struggle on the campaign trail to find relevant policy issues on which they disagree.
Yet no one will ever get former Republican U.S. Rep. Bill McCollum and Democrat state Sen. Walter "Skip" Campbell confused.
McCollum, who served 10 terms in Congress from Central Florida, is quiet and deliberate. He keeps to his message, highlighting his accomplishments and experience.
Campbell, meanwhile, addresses each crowd like he's arguing before a jury. A Broward County lawyer and the state Senate's wealthiest member, Campbell bills himself as the son of a bartender who likes a good story.
Without huge policy arguments, the race for attorney general may wind up a contest of these 30-second personalities: Quiet and dependable vs. bold and flashy.
Both are campaigning to better safeguard Florida residents from identity theft and make sexual predator laws tougher.
At a recent candidate forum, Campbell even joked that McCollum had talked about "all the issues I wanted to talk about."
There are some differences. McCollum supports courts reform, where Campbell does not. And Campbell would support restoring the voting rights to most felons after they served their prison sentence; McCollum would not.
While in the U.S. House, McCollum founded the House Task Force on Terrorism and chaired the subcommittee on crime. Gov. Jeb Bush, who has campaigned for McCollum, says McCollum focused on terrorism "before terrorism was cool." It's that long record that McCollum champions at campaign stops.
"The primary difference between my opponent and me are in areas like qualifications, experience, background and temper," McCollum said.
Campbell has served in the state Senate since 1996. As a minority member in the Senate, he still was offered committee chairmanships by the Republican majority. Campbell says he's been a tireless advocate for working people.
"I do not have an extremist view on either side. I'm someone who's a moderate," Campbell said. "The issues that affect all of us are not relegated to party affiliation. You have to be able to come up with reasonable solutions, regardless of what side of the aisle you're on."
The attorney general is Florida's chief legal officer and serves in the state Cabinet. The attorney general represents the state in most appeals arising from criminal convictions in state courts, opposes major challenges to Florida laws, and issues formal legal opinions on state law. The office also enforces antitrust and consumer protection laws. The attorney general serves a four-year term and is paid a salary of $127,771.
Walter "Skip" Campbell, 57, of Tamarac was elected to the state Senate in 1996. He was the minority whip in 1998 and the Democratic caucus chairman from 2002 to 2004. He previously served on the Florida Elections Commission. Born in Rockaway Beach, N.Y., Campbell moved to Florida in 1961. A Catholic, he attended St. John Vianney Seminary, graduating in 1968. He later earned bachelor's and law degrees from the University of Florida. He serves as partner of the Fort Lauderdale law firm Krupnick, Campbell, Malone, Buser, Slama, Hancock, Liberman & McKee. He is married with two children. Assets: Stocks, 401(k), state pension, individual retirement account, five residences, office building, air charter company, law firm. Liabilities: Mortgages. Sources of income: Law firm, state salary, stocks. Web site: www.skipcampbell.com.
Bill McCollum, 62, was born and raised in Brooksville. He earned his bachelor's and law degrees from the University of Florida, and from 1969 to 1972 he was in the Navy. In 1992, he retired from the Naval Reserve after serving 23 years in the Judge Advocate General's Corps. He practiced law in Orlando until his election to Congress in 1980. He ran for the U.S. Senate, losing both times. Currently he works for the law firm Baker Hostetler. He is married and has three children. Assets: Home, ranch, investments, savings. Liabilities: Mortgages. Sources of income: Law firm salary, congressional pension, military pension. Web site: www.mccollum forattorneygeneral.com.
[Last modified October 24, 2006, 22:51:45]
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