Candidates in HD 65 & 67 to enter the Tiger’s Den next Wednesday

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Candidates for two Pinellas County state House seats will be at the Suncoast Tiger Bay Club August 27, the day after the primary election.

Democrat Carl Zimmerman currently holds the north county District 65 seat. Zimmerman won the seat on his third try in a heavily conservative district. He’s not facing a primary challenger, but two Republicans are hoping to oust him.

Chris Sprowls, 30, survived cancer as a teenager and later went on to graduate from Stetson University College of Law. He now works as a prosecutor in Pinellas and Pasco counties. His campaign priorities are cutting down on pill mills and providing better health care to people both with and without insurance. Tiger Bay members are likely to ask about this one – Sprowls told the Tampa Tribune he doesn’t support accepting federal money to expand Medicaid. Sprowls has raised just under $200,000.

Debbie Faulkner, 28, will face Sprowls in the primary next week. Like her opponent, Faulkner opposes accepting federal funding for Medicaid expansion. She’s focused on creating jobs by limiting regulations. They differ on their views on gambling – Faulkner favors expanding it while Sprowls is opposed. Faulkner has been grossly out-funded by Sprowls, bringing in only about $11,000.

Zimmerman has raised $78,000 not including in-kind contributions.

The mid-county District 67 doesn’t have an incumbent running. Ed Hooper is vacating his spot in Tallahassee.

Running to replace him are Republicans Chris Latvala and Christopher Sheppard and Democrats Thomas Ryan and Steve Sarnoff.

According to its website, Suncoast Tiger Bay assumes the winner of the Democratic primary will face Latvala, who, as the son of longtime state Sen. Jack Latvala, has considerably more name recognition than his opponent.

Though both candidates are on Tuesday’s ballot, Latvala has raised more than $200,000 while Sheppard has only brought in about $2,000.

Democrats in that race have an uphill funding battle. Sarnoff has raised $17,000 while Ryan only raised about $3,000 for his campaign.

Debbie Faulkner won’t be at the Tiger Bay luncheon. Only those advancing to the General Election will be there.

The Tiger Bay meeting is at the St. Petersburg Yacht Club at 11:30 am. Non-members are invited, but have to register on the Club’s website.

Janelle Irwin has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. She also hosts a weekly political talk show on WMNF Community radio. Janelle formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a diehard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and the ongoing Pier debacle. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also the devoted mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder. To contact, email