David Singer says that when he began his run for the Hillsborough County based House District 60 race in April, his goal was not to get into an ideological discussion about left vs. right, but “right vs. wrong.” And now that the primary election season is over, he says he intends to use the next eight weeks to make the clear distinction on the issues between himself and Republican Jackie Toledo.
Toledo narrowly defeated Rebecca Smith in the GOP primary last month, in part by pushing strongly conservative positions, such as saying that she would work to repeal the GOP-led Legislature’s recent laws on allowing instate tuition rates for undocumented immigrants. Singer pointed out other stances by Toledo which he says are out of the mainstream of the district.
“Our opponent is against gay marriage. In 2016. The law of the land is settled, that is not reflective of the people,” he said at an event kicking off his general election campaign Tuesday night at the Beck Group Building in Tampa. He also criticized her for opposing a proposal to allow big cities like Tampa to have the ability to put their own referendums on the ballot, an issue that Mayor Bob Buckhorn says would allow Tampa residents to pay for transit that the Hillsborough County Commission has shown itself reluctant to commit to.
“Our opponent is against allowing the residents of the city to determine its own destiny on transit. That is not a Republican or Democratic issue, it’s simply the right thing to do to let us as city residents, to have a choice. “
Although Singer never mentioned Smith’s name, he said that he’s been contacted by Republicans who backed her who now are supporting him in the general election.
“A lot of the moderate Republican supporters of the candidate who did not win, and have said ‘we’re excited to be with you, we are excited to support you, we are excited that someone is going to represent our community who understands business, who understands that the private sector needs to be able to succeed in order for municipalities to have the revenue they ned to serve all of its citizens, what I’m telling you is I believe we have a very big tent.”
Singer is a Chicago native who has been involved in local politics since moving to Tampa, including the Moving Hillsborough Forward transit initiative that went down to defeat in 2010. This is his first campaign for office, a challenge he said unto itself.
His campaign kickoff was a smash hit, with a large crowd filling the third floor of the Beck building, including virtually every other Democrat running for office this fall, such as Andrew Warren, Bob Buesing, Pat Kemp, Rene Frazier, Gene Siudut, Cathy James, Bob Henriquez, as well as other Democrats like Mike Suarez and Harry Cohen. Ben Diamond, running in Pinellas County’s House District 68, also made an appearance.
While Singer pledged a campaign that wouldn’t be based on partisanship but more on shared principals, Ed Narain was there to bring some red meat to the crowd of progressives.
The House District 61 Representative, who lost by just 75 votes to Darryl Rouson last month in the Senate District 19 race, warned the audience to not underestimate the depths the GOP is willing to go in the race, referring to how he said the GOP spent more than $100,000 to aide Rouson in his contest.
And he called on the assemblage to cough up what they could financially to aid Singer.
“This is not going to be a cheap election,” he warned. They are going to rally around Jackie Toledo to try to make sure that they hold on to that seat.”
The candidates for District 60 are scheduled to participate in a Tampa Tiger Bay forum this Friday, though a spokesperson for Toledo told this reporter earlier this week that she had a conflict and would not be attending. Tiger Bay’s Vic DiMaio said on Tuesday that he’s still hoping to woo Toledo into attending the affair.
HD 60 includes all of South Tampa, much of south Hillsborough County, and Town N Country.