Three candidates vie for House seat

Democratic incumbent Jim Davis’ platform targets education and health care as top priorities.

The 11th Congressional District race is heating up. Running for re-election is incumbent Jim Davis, a moderate Democrat in office since 1996. Two years ago, he was automatically re-elected due to the lack of opponents.

Davis is a native of Tampa and a graduate of Jesuit High School. He graduated from Washington & Lee University and received a law degree from the University of Florida Law School. He returned to Tampa to practice law in 1982. He became a partner in the law firm of Bush, Ross, Gardner, Warren and Rudy in 1988.

The House of Representatives brings into state politics a voice from Tampa Bay, south St. Petersburg and northern Manatee county areas, regions where many USF students live.

“I think in any election people should have a voice and the way to use it is by their representative in government,” said Jonathan Brill, campaign manager for Davis.

Brill said the platforms most important to Davis include education funding, health care and the federal debt. For example, funding the No Child Left Behind Act, which Brill said is not being funded at this moment, and the high cost of prescription drugs, which Davis believes is not something that should be negotiated with the federal government.

Each individual share of the federal debt is $24,000, and Davis’ camp is fighting to make right the disproportionate share of tax cuts that have favored workers with the top one percent of income. During his first term in office, while serving on the House Budget Committee, Davis worked to pass the country’s first balanced budget in nearly 30 years. Since then, he has fought against rising federal budget deficits by campaigning for budget plans that pay down the enormous federal debt and shore up Social Security and Medicare.

In 2003, Davis was appointed to the House Energy and Commerce Committee and is a national co-chair of the New Democrat Coalition, a group of 75 moderate House Democrats. Davis also served on several government committees.

Davis passed the Transition to Teaching Act, legislation that help school districts recruit and train mid-career professionals interested in becoming teachers. In 2001, he joined the New Democrats in enacting education reform legislation focusing on public school choice, high standards, accountability and flexibility.

Other issues Davis supports are finding long-term solutions to water shortages, requiring students to study history and government and preserving people-to-people exchanges with Cuba.

Jim Davis’ Web site:

Libertarian Robert Johnson says voters need choices beyond the American two-party system.

Unlike two years ago, incumbent Jim Davis actually has opponents in the race for the 11th Congressional District (which includes Hillsborough and Pinellas counties as well as portions of Manatee county), Jim Davis has a different election campaign this year. This time, he actually has opponents, unlike two years ago when he automatically won the re-election.

One of his opponents is Libertarian candidate Robert Edward Johnson, who is staunchly opposed to Davis’ policies such as his support for the war in Iraq. Johnson doesn’t understand how someone can vote against keeping “Under God” in the pledge of allegiance and at the same time support ing the war in Iraq. This is a move that Johnson said he would never make, even if there were proof of weapons of mass destruction.

Johnson often takes a humorous approach to his politics. His Web site has some links that take jabs at Sen. John Kerry and President George W. Bush. Some of his links include shortcuts to his in-your-face opinions, with headings such as “Slowly privatize Social Security to be a true savings plan instead of the reverse Robin Hood, Rob-the-Kids plan we have now.”

Johnson believes people should be terrified of the “war mongerers,” as he calls the Democrats and Republicans, who he said have no solution to the war. He also said that college students should be afraid because there may be a draft into another war in Iran.

“Basically there is going to probably be a draft for an upcoming war,” Johnson said. “How frightening that people over 18 may have to go fight another war in Iran to find nuclear weapons.”

Johnson’s source of information for that opinion is the Rush Limbaugh Show. He said he heard Limbaugh talk about invading Iran one morning at 6 a.m. He said he knows there are no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq because if there were, then invading would have been “incredibly stupid.”

Johnson does have three platforms that, if elected, he will fight to resolve: the “gerrymandering of the 11th Congressional District;” partial birth abortion and the federal government’s inability to make decisions about a woman’s health; the Cuban embargo, which he said does not work.

Born in Washington, D.C., Johnson grew up in Arlington, Va. He arrived in Florida in October of 2003 and has worked as a database consultant since 1987. He has been interested in the limited government approach of Libertarianism and has wanted to spread these ideas since attending the Young Americans for Freedom Convention in 1973 while he was in high school.

He graduated from Princeton with a B.A. in economics, and attended University of Chicago from where he received a Master’s in economics. Johnson worked briefly in economic research at the U.S. Commission of Civil Rights. He also taught microeconomics and macroeconomics courses at Roosevelt, DePaul, and the University of Chicago.

Bob Johnson’s Web site:

Socialist Karl Butts thinks unionization of workers is keyto fighting oppression.

In the race for the 11th Congressional District, the Socialist Workers Party is unlike the two major parties in many ways: its main platform is to implement the right for workers to unionize. Karl Butts and the SWP believe that the United States is run by an imperialistic and capitalistic government that exploits workers. This, the party believes, is the reason for national and international oppression.

“We say that what matters above all is what you stand and fight for, not who you are against. We stand with the workers and farmers in this country and around the world who are resisting speed-up, the extension of the work day, and declining real wages,” said Róger Calero, SWP presidential candidate, at a recent rally in Des Moines, Iowa.

Butts said he is determined to materialize the SWP’s assertion of the right to form unions. Butts believes that without unions, the government has too much power. He said another major platform is that the current government does nothing to help realize the advantages of electrification, the ability to use electricity, in poor countries – further suppressing them into poverty.

Butts says it is important for students to look at the campaign program, not the person, when they vote. He also said students should be especially active in this election because it affects Hillsborough, northern Manatee and southern Pinellas counties and that on the national level, things are worsening.

“We are on the brink of a major economic downturn, and that’s what’s causing the conflict in Iraq,” he said.

Butts wants to fight for working class rights so that workers can stop being controlled and taken advantage of.

Butts is a former farmer residing in Plant City with his wife Kim. He qualified for the election as a write-in candidate. He was born in Scranton, Pa. and has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Florida and a master’s degree from Clemson University. Butts has no prior political office experience.

The SWP ballot is active in 15 states and Washington D.C.

The Socialist Worker’s Party Web site: .