WITH LITTLE CHANCE OF ACTUALLY WINNING, THEY ARE MAKING THE BEST OF THE OPPORTUNITY
Joe Viscusi is a former Democrat, former Republican, and is now one of two independent candidates seeking the 12th Congressional District seat held by Bartow Republican Adam Putnam. They apparantly provided much of the fireworks at Monday's Polk County Tiger Bay Club luncheon in Bartow, while second indy candidate Ed Bowlin of Lakeland had to work hard to remain in the mix of the discussion.
Lakeland Ledger political reporter Bill Rufty wrote that, to the delight of those in attendance, it was "one of the most contentious Polk Tiger Bay programs", with Viscusi bringing his "Adam Puppet" prop, a Howdy Doody puppet that symbolizes Putnam's solid voting record with the Bush Administration agenda.
While I was not at the event, and am only writing based on reading Rufty's piece, I would say that Viscusi apparantly slipped hard at one point in saying that opposing Putnam was the only reason he was in the race.
"If there is only one reason you are running, what do you do if you get elected? You have given no ideas, no issues, just me," Putnam said while answering a question about the U.S. presence in Iraq.
"You cut student aid . . . you voted for the Republican prescription plan that created a donut hole and you are selling out our Florida beaches (for oil drilling)," Viscusi said before answering the question on Iraq.
Viscusi apparantly did a good job in following up his comment in listing his GOP opponent's votes that are hurting some of his constituents in Central Florida, but I'm afraid it could be used out of context in trying to show that he has some sort of personal issue with Putnam.
He also may have hurt himself slightly in seemingly pressing too hard in asking Putnam about what he knew and when about former House collegue Mark Foley's e-mails and IMs to current and former congressional pages. It was an obvious attempt to link Putnam, the fifth highest ranking Republican in the House as chairman of the Republican Policy Committee, with others in the leadership who knew months ago about the inappropriate communications. By reading the Rufty story, it was apparant Viscusi had asked several times already, and when he asked again at the end of the programme, it was received with groans from some in the audience.
Bowlin didn't enter into the back-and-forth between his two opponents, and seemed to be more prepared to discuss some of the issues. I especially liked his answer in favouring splitting Iraq into autonomous Shiite, Sunni, and Kurdish states, which is much the way the area was before Great Britain took control in the days shortly before World War II, and agree that it would be a better way of bringing some form of stability to the region.
While Viscusi has little chance of defeating Putnam, who enjoys widespread support throughout the conservative district which includes almost all of Polk and a portion of northeast Hillsborough counties, he has shown that he is dead serious in the challenge. Bowlin, while he has appeared at various events such as this, has made little noise and attracted little attention.