MRS. CHILES ENDORSES INDEPENDENT CANDIDATE IN CONGRESSIONAL RACE
Rhea Chiles, the widow of former governor and Lakeland native Lawton Chiles, is well known as a political activist in her own right across Florida. Last week, it was announced that she has endorsed former state representative Joe Viscusi of Lakeland in his campaign to unseat Republican incumbant Adam Putnam in the 12th Congressional District.
Viscusi, an independent, has waged an aggressive campaign against Putnam, using humour during appearances and interviews with a Howdy Doody puppet to represent the incumbant's ties to special interests and the GOP leadership and his inability to make independent decisions on behalf of his constituents.
Mrs. Chiles' two paragraph statement was released by the Viscusi campaign Friday afternoon:
"Joe Viscusi has dedicated his life to helping people, whether as a Realtor, corrections officer or as an educator in Polk County public schools. He is a teacher students remember throughout their lives as they carry with them the lessons learned in his classroom about academics and life.
"His values regarding education, the environment and small businesses are the same ones I hold dear. His character takes him on a path walked by Lawton throughout his life and I am proud to endorse Joe Viscusi for the United States Congress."
Florida's former first lady told Lakeland Ledger political reporter Bill Rufty that she agreed to endorse Viscusi when asked by one of his former students who is a close friend of Mrs. Chiles.