Republican seeks to make House District 9 race about results
People are saying they want open primaries

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The race for Florida House District 9 centers on effectiveness. So argued a Republican running in the Democratic district during a campaign forum Thursday night.

“I want this district to be relevant again in the Florida House,” GOP candidate Jim Messer said.

“Goals without results are just wishes. What I say is, give me the opportunity to be there in the majority that’s governing. Let me start turning things back on our direction, so we can get the results we need,” he said.

“If we do that, we can get state workers pay raises. We can get economic development, and we can work for the public school system.”

Messer is an attorney running as a moderate on the environment and social issues in a district dominated by heavily Democratic Leon County. Democrat Loranne Ausley is also a lawyer, and served in the House between 2000 and 2008. She described herself as able to work with Republicans. When she sat in the House, she said, state workers won pay hikes every year.

Although an avowed supporter of the Second Amendment with family members, “I absolutely support commonsense gun laws,” Ausley said. That includes background checks, restricting sales to people on the federal no-fly list, restrictions on high-capacity magazines, and opposition to a proposal to keep doctors from asking patients if they keep guns in the home.

Messer called for a balance between the Second Amendment “and the rights of other people.”

“We don’t need people to have guns who have diagnosed mental disorders, we don’t need people to have guns who are on the no-fly list. And people need to know how to use them,” he said.

Ausley was leery of charter schools, arguing they drain resources from public schools. Messer said, “Charter schools do provide innovation, but there should be oversight to make sure they are complying with the directives of the local school board.”

On Medicaid expansion, Ausley argued Florida is turning away federal money that could pay for health care. “That’s people who aren’t getting health care and those are jobs that we’re losing — people who could be providing health care.”

Messer was open to the idea but wary lest the federal government scale back its support for the program.

“We have to have a more efficient system than having people show up at the emergency room, but we have to be careful,” he said. “I’m not saying the federal government occasionally hasn’t come through, but the federal government occasionally hasn’t come through. We need to make sure that, whatever system we have, we have an exit plan on the back end.”

Of prison privatization, Ausley said it has been “a disaster for our state.”

“There are some things that government does that should not be the province of private industry,” Messer said. Private prisons have been “a bad experiment,” but one undertaken while Ausley served in the House minority. “We need someone there who believes that that’s a bad idea, who can work in the majority to start to roll those things back — to draw the lines like they should be drawn.”

Michael Moline

Michael Moline is a former assistant managing editor of The National Law Journal and managing editor of the San Francisco Daily Journal. Previously, he reported on politics and the courts in Tallahassee for United Press International. He is a graduate of Florida State University, where he served as editor of the Florida Flambeau. His family’s roots in Jackson County date back many generations.


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