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Politics

Defying convention

Reform Party candidate Max Linn revels in outrageous political stunts.

By JENNIFER LIBERTO
Published November 1, 2006


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Max Linn's appearance in the second televised gubernatorial debates Monday was a surprise, thanks to a last-minute federal court order, and the self-made millionaire and financial planner made the most of it.

Viewers got a taste of an unusual and outspoken - some would say brash - Reform Party candidate whose platform defies convention.

Linn, 47, is a millionaire financial planner from Treasure Island with a penchant for outrageous political stunts.

At a popular North Florida political event, the Wausau Annual Possum Festival, he tossed a possum into the air as a diversion so he could snatch a microphone and make a political speech. It worked until the organizers shut his power off.

Linn spent most of the Monday night opportunity lobbing bombs. Three times, moderator Chris Matthews corrected him for breaking debate rules.

Both candidates are empty suits, Linn said, but he saved his harshest words for Republican Charlie Crist.

"I know you've been trying to avoid me all year long, but you happen to have two opponents now," said Linn, a longtime Republican who switched parties to run for governor. "I'm over here, Charlie. Do you see me? Or are you still ignoring me?"

If he came off as a bully, he made no apologies.

"Chris Matthews was not playing hardball, he was playing softball," Linn said Tuesday. "And I had to help him."

He said his attention-grabbing behavior proved useful Tuesday morning, when he started receiving numerous calls, Web site hits, media interviews and pledges of support from all over the country. "It's very clear that we won the debate," he said.

Linn considers himself a mix between a libertarian and an old-school Republican. He's the only candidate against the death penalty and against any amnesty for illegal aliens. Like the others, he won't support gay marriage, instead favoring civil unions.

His plan to solve the insurance crisis includes forcing Citizens Property Insurance Corp. to drop homeowners who own homes worth more than half a million dollars, excluding the land beneath them.

He wants to freeze insurance premiums at 2005 rates statewide. And he wants to charge all property insurers a "fee or assessment, not a tax," to offset Citizens' deficits.

The goal is to do away with Citizens altogether and to stick it to insurance companies.

"They're still going to make plenty of money, but they're not going to ride on the backs of middle income people," he said.

As for property insurance, Linn plans to cap at 5 percent annually any increase in property taxes for rental and business properties. He aims to allow Save Our Homes, which caps tax increases for homestead homeowners at 3 percent, to become portable for seniors over the age of 55 who are downsizing into smaller homes.

And he wants to revamp the homestead exemption so that the first $25,000 worth of home value is taxed, but the next $100,000 is tax-exempt. Under that plan, residents with homes worth $50,000 and less would see a tax increase but anyone with a home worth more than $50,000 would see a tax reduction.

"Under my plan, everybody pitches in a little bit, but we give tax relief to most homeowners."

[Last modified November 1, 2006, 15:26:24]


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