Democrat Shapiro Challenging Buchanan

Politics

BY JACOB OGLES SRQ DAILY FRESHLY SQUEEZED CONTENT EVERY MORNING THURSDAY OCT 19, 2017

Prominent Sarasota attorney David Shapiro announced his candidacy for the US House of Representatives as a Democrat, challenging six-term incumbent Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Sarasota. The candidate’s entry into the race provides the most credible challenge to the incumbent this cycle, at a time when national Democrats have already announced Buchanan’s seat as a target district.

Florida’s 16th Congressional District includes all of Manatee County and north Sarasota County, as well as parts of south Hillsborough County. The district leans Republican by 7 percentage points, according to Cook Political Report. President Donald Trump beat Democrat Hillary Clinton in the district by 10.7 percent in November.

The Democrat in his announcement indicated a platform focused on health care and the environment. “Republicans and Vern Buchanan have spent months trying to rip healthcare away from millions of Americans and roll back vital protections for people with pre-existing conditions. We need to stop using healthcare as a potential weapon and make it affordable. Lives are at stake,” Shapiro said in a statement. “Finally, we need to protect our children, our grandchildren, and our way of life by making sure climate change does not devastate our Florida coastlines. That takes decisive action. We can no longer ignore the urgency of the problem in order to protect special interests who put their own profits over our safety.”

Federal Elections Commission records show Shapiro filed on Oct. 14. Democrat Calen Dean Cristiani filed in March but has raised no money thus far. Democrat Jan Schneider, who ran unsuccessfully against Buchanan last year, also filed with the state this week. Additionally, Andrew Edward Smyth filed against Buchanan in the Republican primary in January but has raised no money beyond $100 contributed by the candidate to his own campaign. Green party candidate Eric Allen has also filed with the state.

Buchanan, meanwhile, has more than $2 million in cash on hand, including nearly $790,000 raised this year. The incumbent first won office in a close race against Democratic candidate Christine Jennings in 2006, with a razor-thin 369-vote lead. But in subsequent cycles, Buchanan has won more decisive victories, beating Jennings by a 19-percent margin in 2008. His closest contest since his first election came in 2012, when he defeated Democrat Keith Fitzgerald by more than a 7-percent margin.

As for this cycle, campaign officials for Buchanan say the congressman's focus right now remains on doing a good job in Washington, D.C. "There will be plenty of time for campaigning after Democrats settle on a nominee next year," said Buchanan spokesman Max Goodman.

The party primary in Florida will be held Aug. 28, 2018. The general election is scheduled for Nov. 6, 2018.

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