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In many key ways, they're similar

But one candidate keeps saying the other is young and inexperienced.

Published November 4, 2006

It isn't easy to find a Democrat and a Republican in Florida who share similar views on growth management, Terri Schiavo and abortion.

Rob Schenck, the Republican, and Democrat Glenn Claytor both think that developers should pay their own way and that the government overstepped in its interference in Schiavo's end-of-life battle, and both support parental notification before minors can have an abortion.

Still, the two find things to disagree on. Claytor, 70, characterized his contest with Schenck, 31, as "a race between a boy and a man." Schenck shrugged off the criticism, but Claytor has continued to harp on Schenck's dearth of experience.

Schenck, who lives in Spring Hill with his wife and two children, came to politics from a brief teaching career. He won his first bid for public office four years ago at age 27. He served on the County Commission until he abruptly quit in July to focus on the House race.

Claytor said Schenck isn't sophisticated enough to understand Florida's insurance crisis.

"I think he doesn't understand these issues. I think he just repeats what people have told him," Claytor said.

Schenck, in turn, said he has lived in Hernando County most of his life, is raising a family here and understands the issues far better than Claytor, who retired to Florida in 1999.

"I certainly understand it, and maybe he should worry more about how we would solve the insurance crisis than worrying about whether I understand it or not," Schenck said.

Schenck thinks the state should help prop up the reinsurance business. By offering lower cost reinsurance, it would encourage insurers to stay in the state and help hold prices down.

Claytor disagrees. The state already tried that and failed, he said. Reinsurance businesses took a risk, and for years the risks paid off handsomely, Claytor said. Taxpayers shouldn't have to bail them out now.

"It's not their role to bail out investors," Claytor said.

Here's how the two candidates view other issues:

- Schenck thinks the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test has promoted parent and teacher accountability in education but said educators should have more involvement in developing the test. Claytor isn't opposed to an evaluation test but thinks it is overemphasized and penalizes schools and teachers for problems outside their control.

- On growth and development, both candidates think the growth management legislation passed in 2005 gives local governments the tools to insist that developers pay their own way. Claytor said Hernando County needs to ask for more money from developers because it is facing a shortfall on infrastructure costs because of fast-paced growth. Schenck said the state should not interfere in local government decisions about growth management.

- Both candidates also voiced disapproval of comments made about Muslims by County Commissioner Tom Hogan and his wife, Mary Ann, both prominent local Republicans.

"It's embarrassing for someone like that to hold office," said Claytor. "He should resign."

Schenck said he disagreed with Mary Ann Hogan's comments that Islam is a "hateful, frightening religion." The Hogans' views do not represent Republicans in this county, he said.

"Obviously, they have a First Amendment right to free speech," Schenck said, "and we certainly have a right to disagree with them."

Asjylyn Loder can be reached at (352)754-6127 or





Robert C. Schenck, 31, is a former schoolteacher and Hernando County commissioner. He resigned in July to focus on his bid to replace outgoing state Rep. Dave Russell. Russell, in turn, is running for Schenck's old commission seat. In his first bid for public office, Schenck unseated incumbent Commissioner Chris Kingsley in 2002. He graduated from Central High School in 1993 and earned a bachelor's degree in 1998 from the University of Central Florida. He is on the board of directors of the Spring Hill YMCA and the Gulf Ridge executive council of the Boy Scouts of America. He is married and lives in Spring Hill with his wife, Megan, and their two children.


Glenn Claytor, 70, is a semiretired developer and planner. He is a former housing director for the national Urban League and for a regional planning council covering parts of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. He ran construction and electrical companies before opening a law practice. Born in Washington, D.C., he lived in New York and Chicago before moving to Florida in 1999. He has a bachelor's degree from the University of Rochester and a law degree from Brooklyn Law School. He is treasurer of the county Democratic Executive Committee and a board member for the county Habitat for Humanity and the Charlette Murin Foundation. He and his wife, Dolores, live in Timber Pines. He has a son and two stepchildren.


[Last modified November 4, 2006, 07:43:53]

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