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District 67 debate a civil display (with photo gallery)

MANATEE — No knockouts, no knock downs, no serious missteps.

There weren’t even any personal attacks when the three candidates seeking the Republican nomination for the House District 67 seat met Wednesday in the studios of METV.

With little more than one month remaining before the Aug. 24 primary, the candidates delivered similar stances on many issues, saying they supported cutting bureaucratic red tape, lowering taxes, working to reinvigorate the economy and encouraging new businesses to locate to the area.

Asked about their stance on oil drilling off the Florida coast, in light of the failed special session called by Gov. Charlie Crist this week, there were some differences.

Robert McCann reiterated that he supports drilling offshore, near shore, and on land, as long as it’s not in sight of Florida beaches.

Crist should have never called the special session, McCann said, labeling it a political photo opportunity for the governor who is in a hot race with Republican Marco Rubio and Democrats for a U.S. Senate seat.

Like McCann, Greg Steube said he supports exploiting alternative energy sources.

But in light of the Gulf of Mexico oil catastrophe, Steube said he would support drilling only if it can be proven to be a safe technology with no threat to Florida tourism.

Jeremiah Guccione said he does not support near shore drilling, but that the country still needs its domestic oil industry. Guccione said he philosophically opposes putting a ban against oil drilling into the state constitution.

Chris Wille, editorial page editor for the Bradenton Herald and moderator for the forum, asked the candidates about their stance on Florida adopting an Arizona-style law addressing illegal immigrants.

Steube said everything possible should be done to control the U.S. borders, including allowing law enforcement agencies to report undocumented immigrants who have been detained to federal officials.

Guccione said he would support an Arizona-style law in Florida, and offered to make a donation to help Arizona, which is facing a legal challenge by the Obama administration.

McCann said all immigrants who have entered the United States illegally should be forced to leave for six months, and then could petition for re-entry.

The Arizona law is only attempting to enforce U.S. law, McCann said, calling it “unbelievable” that the Obama administration would seek to intervene.

The District 67 forum will be shown on METV Wednesdays at 7 p.m., Fridays at 4 p.m., Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 5 p.m.

The winner of the primary will face Democrat Z.J. Hafeez and John Studebaker, who is running with no party affiliation, in the Nov. 2 general election.

The general election winner will succeed Rep. Ron Reagan, R-Bradenton, who cannot run for re-election because of term limits.

James A. Jones Jr., East Manatee Editor, can be contacted at 745-7021.