Perhaps it was the recent survey that showed St. Petersburg state Representative Darryl Rouson leading Ed Narain in the Senate District 19 race that has fired him up. In any case, Narain is firing back hard on his Democratic challenger, along with some help from his friend, Congresswoman Kathy Castor.
Narain and Castor took issue on Wednesday with a statement that Rouson had released regarding the U.S. Supreme Court’s 5-3 ruling on Monday that overturned a Texas law restricting women’s health and reproductive rights.
Rouson praised the decision, writing that, “we must continue to fight restrictions on women’s healthcare,” said Rouson in the statement, which Narain said was essentially hypocritical, considering Rouson’s support for pro-life bills in recent years in the Legislature. Specifically, Narain cited three specific votes on abortion in the Florida Legislature that Rouson voted on this past year, in 2015 and 2012.
Narain says that Rouson voted in support of HB-1411 in the past session. That’s the bill sponsored by Lakeland Republican Kelli Stargell that prohibited state funding for routine care at abortion clinics, and placed requirements for physicians similar to a Texas law currently under review by the U.S. Supreme Court.
The Florida Times-Union reported that Rouson was one of only 6 House Democrats to cross party lines to vote for the measure.
According to VoteSmart.org, Rouson did support HB 633 in 2015. That bill added a 24-hour waiting period and a requirement that a patient make an extra trip to the physician in order to listen to state-mandated information prior to obtaining an abortion.
The website also supports Narain’s statement that Rouson supported Riverview Republican Rachel Burgin’s 2012 bill that dictated that no woman can have an abortion in Florida after 20 weeks unless the doctor informs the mother about how the fetus will suffer pain.
“Rep. Rouson’s anti-choice and anti-women’s health record is very troubling,” said Castor. “Yesterday’s (Monday’s) U. S. Supreme Court decision is an important reminder that we must support candidates who support women and that is one reason I support Rep. Ed Narain for the State Senate from Tampa Bay.”
“On three different occasions, when Darryl Rouson could have stood up for women’s health, he voted against protecting women when he had the chance,” added Narain. “We need principled leaders who will stand up for what’s right and for progressive values. As a father and husband, I won’t stand by while ‘say-anything’ politicians like Darryl Rouson side with the Republicans and try to tell women what they can do with their own health care. “
Rouson fired back in kind.
“When you are last in the polls, it is disappointing that you resort to personal attacks,” the St. Pete based lawmaker said in a statement. “People are tired of this kind of politics. As an experienced legislator who has been elected five times by the people, I stand on an eight-year record of achievement. People deserve a debate on the issues—not self-serving twisting of the facts.”
Regarding his votes on the abortion bills, Rouson maintained recently in the Tampa Bay Times that he accidentally hit the wrong voting button on his desk – on all three occasions.
“On HB1411, I was fulfilling a professional responsibility and not on the Floor,” he said on Wednesday. “The record shows my “No” vote upon return against the bill (VoteSmart.org says he didn’t vote on the bill). On HB 633 and HB 277, the record reflects my “No” vote and to state otherwise is to mislead the voters.”
Narain, Rouson, Betty Reed and Augie Ribeiro are all competing for the Democratic nomination for SD 19 on Aug. 30. The winner will face Tampa Republican John Houman in November.