As we enter the home stretch before the midterms, for pure bare-knuckles entertainment value it is hard to find a snarkier race in the state than the one to represent Florida’s 16th Congressional District.
It’s getting tough to keep the charges and countercharges straight between Republican incumbent Vern Buchanan and Democratic challenger David Shapiro straight, and they are coming with increasing frequency.
After Buchanan released an ad touting his environmental chops, Shapiro counterpunched with a point that Buchanan’s contributions from Big Sugar are reason enough to blame him for the red tide that turned beaches in the Sarasota and Manatee counties in smelly graveyards littered with rotting fish corpses.
But who’s the polluter here?
In Ryan Nicol’s story for Florida Politics on Shapiro’s contention about the evils of Big Sugar, Max Goodman, Buchanan’s campaign manager, shot back, “Shapiro lost all credibility on red tide and the environment the moment he purchased stock in nine of the top 100 companies most responsible for global warming.
“He says one thing publicly yet privately does another. We just can’t trust the guy.”
But wait, Shapiro’s camp said. The stock was part of an overall retirement fund and not chosen individually by the candidate — which is how most of those plans work. I mean, seriously, does anyone signing up for one go through the list one by one?
Anyway, that brings us to the yacht.
Buchanan has had to explain why he spent between $1 million and $5 million to buy a yacht on the same day last November that he voted for the first draft of President Trump’s tax-cut package — you know, the one that has been criticized for being overly generous to rich people.
Oh yeah. That became a TV spot for Shapiro’s camp,
Buchanan’s camp has tried to tie Shapiro to Nancy Pelosi.
Shapiro’s camp has tied Buchanan to Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell.
Whoever scares you most, right?
Then, there is this: Shapiro neglected to include a condo he owns in Colorado on his financial disclosure form — his second blunder on that front. He earlier fessed up to leaving in-kind contributions of the disclosure. He promised he would fix it by the next filing.
You can bet Buchanan’s camp will be checking.
What’s happening here is befitting a Republican district Democrats believe they can flip as part of what they hope is a blue wave in November. Buchanan was first elected to Congress in 2006 and, at the time, was considered one of the five wealthiest members of the House with personal assets of more than $100 million.
By 2015, that was up to $115.5 million. That would explain the yacht.
Whether any of this back-and-forth will hurt Buchanan enough to flip Florida’s 16th Congressional District remains to be seen. Sabato’s Crystal Ball still rates the district as “leaning Republican.”
Fivethirtyeight.com is more definitive, calling it “likely Republican” and giving Buchanan a six-in-seven chance of winning.
The way this race is going, though, you have to wonder if a candidate named “None of the Above” would win in a breeze.