On Monday Night in front of a Tea Party audience Todd Long, Julius Melendez, Mark Oxner and yes, John Quinones rolled out their cases on why they should be Alan Grayson’s challenger in November.
The East Side Tea Party hosted a candidate forum and while Oxner, Melendez, and Long sparred a few day back, this was Osecola Commissioner and former State Rep. John Quinones’ coming out party. He had little time to get settle before the forum heated up and the candidates started sharing their vision with a Tea Party group that helped Congressman Dan Webster defeat Grayson in 2010.
There were some interesting questions and quotes. Let’s break it down by candidate.
Mark Oxner: Came off more aggressive than his previous outing. He also pointed out that like Todd Long he also enjoyed the support of Herman Cain.
Who would he choose to be a future House Speaker: Paul Ryan
“Everyone wants to talk about the bills they sponsored, I want to talk about the bills I repealed” – (In the context of cutting the President’s healthcare plan)
“In order to protect our country, we’ve got to protect our vets and take care of their widows” on Veterans Affairs
“Drop the corporate tax rate to 0% and cut the department of Education, Energy, and Commerce” when asked about possible financial solutions.
“I’ve been fighting on the local level for 30 years”
“Talk to them about education and energy” on delivering a Conservative message to Hispanics.
“Stop sending attorneys to Washington”
Todd Long: This was a home game for Long. He continued preaching his Constitutional Conservative views and used the examples of how the founding fathers would use their principles solve modern challenges. He was comfortable with a group that had friendly faces from his previous campaigns.
Who would he choose to be Speaker of the House?: Paul Ryan and he dissed current speaker John Boehner
“I’m the only one trying to reform the tax code up here”
“I think we should make Congress go through, what Vets have to go through to get medical care and give their health care plan to the vets”
“I’m the only one up here who really stands up for what they believe”
Long also spoke of the Hispanic ties in his family and business.
Julius Melendez: I’ve said it before. This is the flame thrower of the group and News Directors and Editors all over town would whistle to work each day, knowing they could cover the war a Melendez/Grayson race would be. He opened with a Mother’s Day greeting and a reminder that the Tea Party was still alive in Orlando.
Who would he choose to be House Speaker?: Darrell Issa
“999 doesn’t work, Grover Norquist is afraid of it because it adds an additional tax”
“We have to take care of the National Guard and Reserves too”- on Vet Care
“Follow the Rubio philosophies” he said before slamming his opponent’s occupations. He touted his long residency in the district and finished with “Imagine me and Rubio standing together for Florida. I’ll tell you what, this state will stay red forever”
“For once the people of District 9 don’t have to settle for a moderate. Most Hispanics have conservative values but just don’t know. I’ll them and I’ll tell them in Spanish”
John “Q” Quinones: In this rowdy crew, the longtime lawmaker was the definitely the softest spoken of the group. Taking a page out of the Daniel Webster debate book, he was light on the edgy rhetoric and soundbytes. He is in favor of repealing “Obamacare” and banning earmarks and, wants to improve on screening veterans PTSD and expand Veterans preference for employment. He also voiced support to send medicare to the states and wants the voters to get to know him and his deep roots in the district. He didn’t name an ideal House Speaker but a campaign spokesperson said he would want to sit down with any potential future leaders before making a decision, and that the next great conservative might not be in the spotlight yet. He was light on soundbytes but did warn of those politicians who depend on elected office to make a living. His send-off to the crowd in attendance?
“Alan Grayson must be stopped. Let’s make sure we give him plenty of time for talk shows so, he can go Rachel Maddow anytime he wants”.
You learned a lot about this race tonight. In an environment where there is little tolerance for moderates, you saw how far each of the candidates would go for Tea Party support. Really, it’s about as far Alan Grayson would go towards the middle so, it could balance out into what is shaping out to be a memorable contest for Florida’s 9th.