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Things get ugly when two sitting lawmakers vie for the same seat.
This is certainly the case in the Republican primary battle for Florida’s 7th Congressional District.
The Central Florida race features Rep. John Mica, a political veteran with a role in House leadership, and Rep. Sandy Adams, who rode the 2010 tea party wave out of the state Legislature and into Congress.
In a scathing mailpiece, Mica claims he is the right person to represent the reorganized 7th Congressional District because Adams is in cahoots with President Barack Obama.
The piece states in large type, "Barack Obama counted on Sandy Adams."
Some more excerpts: Sandy Adams Voted Twice to Approve $8 Billion in Obama Stimulus Spending.
Compare Sandy Adams to John Mica before you vote in the Republican primary.
John Mica is the only Republican in this race to vote against Obama stimulus.
Wait, what? Didn’t Adams, a tea party favorite endorsed by Sarah Palin, come to Washington in 2011? How could she have supported Obama’s 2009 economic stimulus package?
The mailer offers citations, in the form of bill numbers and vote dates, to back up its claims. Such a gesture sometimes gives us hope that truthfulness will be found. Alas, no. Mica’s claim is illogical.
The citations are for annual state budgets the Florida Legislature passed in 2009 (SB 2600) and 2010 (HB 5001). Indeed, Adams, then a member of the Florida House, voted for both.
Lawmakers faced a tremendous budget shortfall in 2009, and part of the way they offset damaging cuts was to accept $5 billion from the federal stimulus program (and through raising taxes and fees on Floridians by $2.2 billion). The same story emerged in 2010, with $2.4 billion from the stimulus program piped in to patch the deficit.
Adams wasn’t the only House Republican to vote for these budgets. The plans sailed through the Legislature along party lines, with Republicans almost unanimously in favor. Democrats who voted against the budget in 2009 called it "inadequate."
Adams, who campaigned against government waste like a lot of her GOP contemporaries, referred to the stimulus as a "failed" bill in a 2010 Orlando Sentinel op-ed.
Mica’s team says that’s not her real position. "We needed to let voters know that her record does not match the rhetoric," said Mica spokesman Alan Byrd. "Congressman Mica voted no."
We have to say, though, we find this line of argument ridiculous.
Using Mica’s logic, that means Obama also counted on Gov. Rick Scott, a high-profile basher of Obama’s stimulus and health care reforms. The first budget Scott signed contained millions of stimulus dollars, after all.
Plus, Adams’ team said Mica is being hypocritical. They pointed to several instances in which Mica, along with eight other House Republicans, voted "no" on the stimulus and then publicly campaigned for Florida to receive stimulus money for projects such as high-speed rail just hours later. His critique of it then was that it didn’t spend enough money on transportation projects.
Mica says Obama counted on Adams to approve stimulus spending. That's not the case. Congress approved the stimulus in 2009, before Adams took her seat in 2011.
Adams did vote for two state budgets that contained stimulus money, as did many other Florida legislators who opposed the federal law. Likewise, Mica himself lobbied for stimulus projects in Florida once the stimulus became law.
Mica's mailer is misleading and hardly offers an apples-to-apples comparison. Adams couldn’t have voted on the stimulus program because she wasn’t even a member of Congress at the time.
We rule this statement Pants on Fire!
Email interview with Lisa Boothe, Adams campaign spokeswoman, July 24, 2012
Interview with Alan Byrd, Mica campaign spokesman, July 24, 2012
Orlando Sentinel opinion editorial by Sandy Adams, "Senate must act on economy, jobs and meet House in middle," Oct. 28, 2011 (accessed via Nexis)
Orlando Sentinel, "Adams hopes conservative credentials bring her victory," Oct. 28, 2010 Thursday
PolitiFact Florida, "Rubio tries to blame Crist for health care overhaul," April 7, 2010
FactCheck.org, "Florida Primary Flier Frames Republican," July 20, 2012
POLITICO, "Florida duel: Republican vet vs. tea party freshman," July 10, 2012
Florida House, SB 2600 floor vote, May 8, 2009
Florida House, HB 5001 floor vote, April 30, 2010
Tampa Bay Times/Miami Herald, "Gov. Rick Scott includes 'failed stimulus' money in budget," June 1, 2011
POLITICO, "Nine Fla. Republicans want stim cash," Feb. 19, 2009
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