MANATEE — Incumbent Vern Buchanan, of Sarasota, faces a challenge in his bid for a third term from Don Baldauf in the Republican primary Aug. 24.
It is the second time Baldauf, a licensed alarm contractor, has run for the seat. This time, he’s running as a Republican; last time, he ran with no party affiliation.
“Whatever the subject is, I can research it and identify and fix the problem,” said Baldauf, 51. “That’s the problem in Washington, is they try to fix the blame, and not the problem.”
Buchanan, 59, a Sarasota businessman who hails originally from Detroit, said he is running because he is concerned about federal spending and the economy.
“I think especially today, the economy and jobs, from what I’ve gathered from all my town halls, it’s about helping working people get back to work,” said Buchanan. “I’ve created thousands of jobs. I’m not a professional politician. I’ve been in business myself over 30 years, and what I bring to it is I know how to create, and can bring to the area, private-sector jobs.”
Another of his top priorities is encouraging business and expansion at Port Manatee.
“It’s a huge opportunity for us to add some economic diversity to the region, especially Manatee County, one of my top priorities,” he said.
Asked about his vision for the district, Buchanan said, “We want to make sure we don’t run into more of these drilling issues.”
Baldauf has been a vocal proponent of oil drilling, while Buchanan has been a vocal opponent.
Baldauf is affiliated with a nonprofit group that operates Bradenton-based, pro-drilling website, www.floridaoil.org, according to the website. He continues to support oil and gas drilling 25 miles or more from shore, arguing that many voters agree with him.
“The people that were for it before are still for it,” said Baldauf. “The people who think we should be riding bicycles, like in China, still feel the way they do.”
Buchanan said he is opposed to drilling off Florida’s coast.
“In the near future, I wouldn’t support any deepwater drilling,” Buchanan said. “We’ve got to protect our beaches and water quality environmentally, and in terms of jobs and the economy.”
Baldauf said his vision of what he’d like to see for the congressional district is to “reset our priorities” financially, so the United States can keep its promise to its seniors, who have invested so much in Social Security and Medicare.
The Republican nominee will face Democrat Rick Eaton or the Rev. James T. Golden in the Nov. 2 general election.
Sara Kennedy, Herald reporter, can be reached at (941) 745-7031.