Politics & Government

Sarasota personal injury lawyer ready to challenge Vern Buchanan for seat in Congress

M. David Shapiro, a Sarasota personal injury lawyer, is running for U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan’s seat in 2018
M. David Shapiro, a Sarasota personal injury lawyer, is running for U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan’s seat in 2018

A Sarasota personal injury lawyer is vying for U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan’s seat in the 2018 election.

M. David Shapiro — of Shapiro, Goldman, Babboni, Fernandez and Walsh — said he’s joining the race for the 16th Congressional District, which runs from Riverview to Osprey.

Shapiro, a Democrat, said he couldn’t pinpoint the exact moment he decided to run, but rather attributed it to a culmination of frustration from the past and current administrations. He compared it to a parent yelling at a coach during a child’s soccer game.

“I could never truly criticize unless I was prepared to walk the walk,” he said.

The lawyer’s previous encounter with public office was a run for Florida House District 70 in 2006, the same year Buchanan won his first U.S. House race. Shapiro won the Democratic primary but narrowly lost to Doug Holder, who most recently was ousted by Rep. Julio Gonzalez for the District 74 seat.

His three most important issues, Shapiro said, are jobs, health care and climate change.

“What I’ve learned was there are companies who have jobs, but they can’t find skilled labor,” he said. “To me, that’s a tragedy.”

He separated himself from Buchanan by citing his own tenure representing “every demographic” for personal injury and wrongful death suits.

“We sort of miss those hardworking people in the middle,” he said. “I see their problems, I understand what’s going on. It’s very personal to me.”

On climate change, Shapiro said it’s a matter of everyone concluding that it’s a problem in the first place.

He said he believes the issue ties in with jobs, and that renewable energy and green infrastructure should be the focus “instead of chasing jobs of the past.”

Buchanan’s spokesman Max Goodman indicated it is too soon to compare contenders.

“There will be plenty of time for campaigning after Democrats settle on a nominee next year,” Goodman wrote in an email to the Bradenton Herald.

Other Democrats who Shapiro has joined include Calen Cristiani and Jan Schneider, according to the Division of Elections website. Cristiani comes from a six-generation family of circus performers and has worked on past campaigns, including for Hillary Clinton and former President Barack Obama. Schneider has run off and on since 2002 for a seat in Congress.

Additional contenders include Lakewood Ranch’s Eric Allen for the Green Party and Parrish’s Sean Canfield with no party affiliation.

Hannah Morse: 941-745-7055, @mannahhorse