Buchanan Stresses Biz Background, Immigration Cred



Editor’s note: This is the first in a three-part series profiling candidates for state House District 72

With mailers hitting inboxes and a new television ad promoting his Sarasota roots, Republican James Buchanan has stepped up his presence significantly in an effort to gain momentum in a special election for state House in District 72. ”I’m actually really excited,” Buchanan tells SRQ. “We’re running a positive campaign and have gotten a lot of great responses from people in the community.”

So far, he’s been drumming hardest on the immigration issue of Sanctuary Cities and his support for legislation that would put restrictions on cities not enforcing immigration laws. And while he says he won’t engage in personal attacks, he suggested Democrat Margaret Good would not adequately address that issue if she wins the election. “I would work with Sheriff Tom Knight and make sure we are enforcing those laws,” Buchanan says. “My opponent, an attorney who works in the law field, opposes upholding the laws of the land.” (Good opposes legislation supported by Gov. Rick Scott that would impose fines and penalties for cities deemed uncooperative with federal immigration enforcement.)

Of course, while Buchanan’s recent televised ad largely focuses on his own history, many of the mailers sent out by state-level Republicans have criticized Good as an attorney working against families in Florida. And Buchanan in an interview notes a problem with Good taking money from developer Hugh Culverhouse, an act he sees as contrary to her environmental platform.

He’s also been the target of mailers published by the Florida Democratic Party, including ones scrutinizing his financial disclosure where he lists only $23,000 in income for 2016 despite having two mortgages totaling in excess of $1 million and revealing he owns two businesses. Buchanan says those attacks fail to recognize the nature of owning a business. 

“I’ve had great years and I’ve had years that haven’t been so great,” says Buchanan, a real estate agent. “I’ve had years where I reinvested in my businesses and years where I’ve sold properties and done well. All my information is a public record.”

He also this month stressed his opposition to offshore oil drilling off Florida’s coasts, including in state waters, as his father U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Sarasota, fought at the federal level to preserve restrictions on oil companies excavating in the Gulf of Mexico. And he says as a representative he would encourage greater communication between state transportation officials and local jurisdictions. More than any ideology, he says he will serve the constituents of the district first.

Perhaps the greatest complaint leveled at Buchanan as a candidate, though, has been his low profile until now. His campaign announced last year that he wouldn’t participate in any debates with Good, though he has now agreed to a debate on ABC-7 with Good and Libertarian Alison Foxall on Tuesday. “There’s going to be others as well, probably,” he says. But he also noted Good declined an ABC-7 debate with her opponent during the Democratic primary.

His main goal as a candidate, he says, is meeting with voters. “My number one priority is meeting the people in the district, ideally in a one-on-one opportunity to speak to those issues that are important,” Buchanan says.

The special election is scheduled in District 72. All registered voters within the district can vote in the election.

Photo courtesy Buchanan campaign: James Buchanan campaigns door to door in District 72

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