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Tampa attorney collecting petitions to run against Alcee Hastings – so he can gain access to him

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

Hillsborough County-based attorney Michael Steinberg focuses on Social Security, Medicare and disability issues. He’s a former chairman of the Hillsborough County Democratic Party and unsuccessful political candidate. He also was a candidate for president earlier this year.

He’s now collecting signatures to qualify to run against Florida CD 20 Democrat Alcee Hastings, but he says he’ll gladly back out if he can get the South Florida lawmaker to back his pet legislation – which is to try to decrease the time that veterans and Social Security disability claimants take to get their case heard.

“Alcee’s an influential congressman, he’s one of the most senior members of our congressional delegation and I’d like his ear,” Steinberg said on Wednesday.

Sternberg admits that he really has no interest in running a full fledged campaign against the longtime incumbent. He just wants to get his attention, but scoffs at the idea that he might be able to pick up the phone and speak to the congressman.

“I’ve written letters, ” he said. “Do you know how hard it is to get an appointment with a congressperson? I have to give thousands of dollars just to get to shake somebody’s hand. And take a picture with him. “

Steinberg has ran for state house three times, a city council seat once, and finished fifth in a five person field when the CD 14 seat became open in 2006 when Democrat Jim Davis ran for governor. Sternberg ended up losing to Kathy Castor, but said that his raison d’etre was the same then as now –to get a member of Congrses to act on this issue.

In fact, in 2008 Castor introduced legislation to expedite the disability claims process. Steinberg said that helped at the time, but says “it’s getting worse now.”

Hastings Congressional District 23 seat includes Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach, and includes areas like Belle Glade.

Steinberg says Hastings has “a lot of clout,” and says that the people who really need such benefits are the type of people in his district.

“It’s really hard to get congressperson interested in issues where nobody’s contributing people,” he says. “You don’t see a lot of disability claimants or disabled veterans giving campaign contributions, so it’s not on the radar screen, but they’re suffering.”

A call to Hastings’ campaign office had not been returned by the time this story posted.

 

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Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served as five years as the political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. He also was the assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley. He's a San Francisco native who has now lived in Tampa for 15 years and can be reached at mitch.perry@floridapolitics.com.

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