MANATEE -- Perennial candidate Jan Schneider knows beating Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Longboat Key, in an election for his congressional seat will be a challenge.
Regardless, she said she sees the campaign as a way to focus on issues in an election season increasingly not focused on policy.
"He's gotten away with not commenting on a lot of things, and I'd like to force him to comment," said Schneider, running as a Democrat.
Schneider, a Sarasota attorney, has run for the seat five times starting in 2002, dropping out the most recent time before the election. She said those experiences made her a better
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candidate and, after watching this election season with candidates such as Donald Trump and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, she felt anything could happen.
"It's a crazy political year," Schneider said in an interview with the Bradenton Herald. "It (the congressional seat) may not be winnable now, but who can say six months from now? And even if it proves unwinnable, it's worth doing."
Because of Trump, Schneider said, a lot of campaigns this year have focused less on policy, which she called the entire driving point of politics. She hopes to remedy that in this congressional campaign and drive discussion on the issues.
Some of those issues include addressing the vanishing U.S. middle class by adjusting trade policies, less U.S. involvement in other countries such as the Middle East, and replacing Obamacare with a nonvoucher system such as expanding Medicare to all.
"Obamacare is too expensive, unsustainable and unwieldy," Schneider said. "But the Republicans keep trying to repeal it without having anything solid to replace it with. Voucher systems are a bad idea."
Schneider said she believes Buchanan has been a good congressman and works hard, but they have philosophical differences.
Schneider said she's not sure where Buchanan stands, in some cases, because it's too easy for him to not speak up. She wants to force conversations with Buchanan on issues such as equal pay for women, gay marriage and privatization of Veterans Affairs.
Asked about Buchanan's stance on those issues, spokeswoman Sally Dionne said, "We look forward to a healthy debate on the issues once the Democrats select a nominee this summer."
Schneider is facing Brent King in that primary, a Lakewood Ranch airline pilot who has not run for public office before.
Schneider said she is supporting Hillary Clinton for president, partially because she has loyalty to the Clintons after going to law school with them at Yale University and also because she believes Clinton has the most policy knowledge of any candidate. She said she would enthusiastically support Sanders as well.
"She might actually be able to get things done," Schneider said. "And I like Sanders' ideas. My concern is how we pay for them."
Despite her support for Clinton, her Ivy League education and her multiple previous runs, Schneider sees herself as an outsider candidate. It has become a commonly sought label this election season.
"I don't expect support from the establishment and, in this year, that could be an advantage," Schneider said.
Kate Irby, Herald online/political reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7055. You can follow her on Twitter @KateIrby