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11th U.S. Congressional District

The issues include government spending, education policy and Social Security as a two-term incumbent bids for another term.

By KATHRYN WEXLER

© St. Petersburg Times, published November 1, 2000


Rep. Jim Davis, D-Tampa, is aiming for a third term in Congress. A member of the Budget Committee, Davis highlights his commitment to balancing the budget, his pet cause.

He considers himself a "new Democrat." "We're considered deficit hawks," he said. "We vote against spending proposals if we think they compromise our ability to pay down the debt, our highest priority."

Unlike his 1998 re-election, when Davis was challenged by Republican Hillsborough County Commissioner Joe Chillura, the congressman faces only token opposition this time around.

Libertarian Charlie Westlake wants the seat, as does write-in candidate Kay M. Sauer. Westlake says he will fight to cut federal taxes and programs, abolish the education department and privatize Social Security.

"If we leave money in Washington, it'll be like having an alcoholic tend bar," Westlake said. "They'll find a way to spend it."

Davis has raised 20 times as much money as Westlake, much of it from political action committees and special interest groups.

Upon his arrival four years ago in Washington, D.C., Davis became a president of the freshman Democratic class, making him a liaison to party leadership. Besides the Budget Committee, he serves on the International Relations Committee.

Davis is a moderate Democrat with a fiscally conservative bent. He favors gun control and affirmative action. He has voted in favor of abortion rights.

Regarding education, Davis has backed grants to reduce class size and is co-sponsoring a bill to give tax credits to overcrowded school districts, including Hillsborough's. He is critical of school vouchers.

"I've just done a lot of work on education since I was in the state Legislature, mainly to provide support to our state and local school districts," Davis said.

He also bills himself as a politician willing to cross party lines on certain issues. Unlike most Democrats, he voted to open trade with China. He was the only House Democrat from Florida to vote in favor of fast-track legislation, which would have streamlined international trade agreements. And during the saga of Elian Gonzalez, the 6-year-old boy found at sea who was ultimately returned to his native Cuba, Davis came down against legislation pushed by Vice President Al Gore and Florida Sens. Bob Graham and Connie Mack that would have given Elian permanent resident status.

THE JOB

The 11th congressional district includes most of Tampa and Brandon. U.S. representatives serve two-year terms and are paid $141,300 annually.

DEMOCRAT

JIM DAVIS, 42, is a two-term U.S. representative hoping win a third term. Davis is a Tampa native and holds an undergraduate degree from Washington & Lee University in Virginia. He attended law school at the University of Florida and was a partner with the Tampa firm of Bush, Ross, Gardner, Warren & Rudy. Before heading to Washington, D.C., he served four terms in the Florida House of Representatives and was House majority leader for two years. He is married and has two sons. ASSETS: treasury securities and retirement fund. LIABILITIES: mortgage. SOURCE OF INCOME: congressional salary.

LIBERTARIAN

CHARLIE WESTLAKE, 42, has been a life insurance agent for 16 years. He graduated from Leto High and attended the University of South Florida for two years. He is married and has two daughters and a son. ASSETS: retirement accounts, home equity, pension plan, stocks, savings account, checking account. LIABILITIES: home mortgage, home equity loan. SOURCE OF INCOME: insurance commissions.

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