Margaret Good hits Vern Buchanan on oil donations, misidentifies Interior Secretary
With weak name recognition, Margaret Good is falling behind Vern Buchanan in new polling.

Good Buchanan
She said Florida needs Congress to fight Ryan Zinke, who quit in 2018.

Sarasota Democrat Margaret Good slammed Rep. Vern Buchanan for taking donations from lobbyists supporting oil drilling off Florida’s coast.

In addition to ignoring the Republican Congressman’s long-time opposition to drilling, the Democratic challenger misidentified the current Interior Secretary.

“Once again the Florida coastline is under siege while Vern Buchanan sits idly by, continuing to rake in contributions from the oil and gas industry,” Good said in a press release.

“Floridians deserve a representative who will stand up to Ryan Zinke and the Trump Administration to make it clear that under no circumstances will we stand for drilling off our coast. Thankfully, their declaration to drill after the general election gives voters a clear path to stop this destructive and unpopular policy: we must vote them out in November.”

Zinke served as President Donald Trump’s first Interior Secretary. During his time in the position, he indeed pushed for a significant expansion in offshore drilling.

But he also resigned from the post in December of 2018. And his departure raised some alarms in Florida as successor David Bernhardt, an oil lobbyist, took the reins of the agency. That’s because Zinke had at least negotiated a deal with then-Gov. Rick Scott to leave Florida “off the table” as far as any offshore exploration.

That change in guard was apparently not noticed by Good’s camp before the press release was issued. But Buchanan’s team quickly noted the gaffe.

“I don’t know what’s more embarrassing for @GoodforFlorida — that she attacks Florida’s leading opponent of offshore drilling or that she didn’t know Sec. Zinke resigned 18 months ago,” wrote Buchanan campaign manager Max Goodman in a response on Twitter.

Shortly after, Good’s campaign sent a corrected release that simply attacked the Trump Administration, naming no Interior Secretary.

Your boss is for drilling everywhere else and you expect people to believe he won’t change his mind here?” wrote Alex Koren, Good’s campaign manager. “Glad you’re able to keep up with the historic level of turnover in @realDonaldTrump‘s cabinet, though.”

Buchanan’s campaign offered no further comment on the issue. There was, however, a certain befuddlement over the choice to criticize the Congressman regarding drilling.

As far as that goes, Good’s campaign seized on recent reporting the Interior Department will again pursue more drilling. A report in Politico quoted sources in the agency saying they would pursue the issue only after the election, precisely because it could become controversial in the swing state of Florida.

But this is hardly the first time political momentum has grown behind drilling. Buchanan opposed a drilling expansion even with Florida left out of plans. Like nearly every member of the Florida Delegation, Buchanan voted last year in favor of a drilling ban in the Eastern Gulf of Mexico passed in the House.

As co-chair of the Florida Congressional Delegation, Buchanan has helped advance shore protections, including introducing legislation in 2017 with Democratic Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz and again in 2019 with Democratic Rep. Kathy Castor to stop drilling near Florida.

Good’s campaign, though, suggested donations to his campaign tell a different story. The campaign said the seven-term incumbent has accepted $135,821 from the oil and gas lobby, as reported by Open Secrets. That includes $17,000 from committees connected to Chevron and to the American Petroleum Institute PAC, groups which specifically lobbied in favor of drilling in the Gulf.

Good last July announced she would forgo seeking another term in the Florida House to challenge Buchanan in Florida’s 16th Congressional District. She formally withdrew as a statehouse candidate this week.

Jacob Ogles

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at [email protected].


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