Fasano, Raburn and Raulerson for House of Representatives
No matter how local state House races turn out, there will be a lot of new faces in the region's delegation, with newcomers vying for three open seats. Incumbents are running in two other races, and another veteran lawmaker is seeking a newly configured Pasco seat. Today we make our endorsements in three of the races. District 36 State Sen. Mike Fasano, who has served in the Legislature 18 years, is term-limited in the upper chamber, so he is seeking a return to the House, where he began his legislative career, in District 36. The west Pasco County seat was drawn during redistricting this year. Fasano, a 54-year-old New Port Richey Republican, defeated two opponents in the August primary. He is facing a write-in candidate in November, so his election is virtually guaranteed. An accomplished lawmaker who staunchly defends "the little guy and gal" on property insurance and other issues, and provides exemplary constituent service, Fasano will provide leadership that is greatly needed in the House.The Tribune endorses Mike Fasano in District 36. In District 37, another Pasco seat, state Rep. Richard Corcoran of New Port Richey won the Republican primary and another two-year term. Incoming House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, was unopposed in District 38, which also is based entirely in Pasco. District 57 Both candidates in this district, which covers southeastern Hillsborough, are intelligent, likable and enthusiastic. Democrat Bruce Barnett, who manages a trucking logistics operation in Brandon, is a Florida native and Army veteran with an advanced business degree. He understands the challenges of small businesses, but knows sensible regulations are needed to protect consumers and taxpayers. Like many parents, he worries about cuts to schools and the continued emphasis on "high stakes testing." Barnett, 49, believes using tax dollars to offer job-creating incentives to companies is usually a waste. Jake Raburn, 27, is a strawberry farmer who works for Hinton Farms Produce, and earlier worked for the Florida Department of Citrus. Naturally, the University of Florida graduate has a strong command of agriculture's concerns. He advocates a new guest-worker program that would help workers and farmers but not allow illegal immigrants to flout the law. But he also is a critic of duplicative regulation and would make job growth a top priority. Both are appealing candidates. Barnett is more knowledgeable on growth and education issues, but Raburn offers the valuable perspective of a farmer and seems well-connected to the district. This is a close call, but in District 57, the Tribune endorses Jake Raburn. District 58 Republican Dan Raulerson, the Plant City Mayor and CPA, should have no trouble being elected to this district, which includes Plant City, portions of Temple Terrace and Thonotosassa. Opponent Democrat Jose Vasquez, originally from Puerto Rico, has a checkered past that includes arrests, hardly an appropriate resume for public office. He says that being in prison gave him time to study Florida laws. Raulerson, in contrast, has run a successful CPA firm and served on the Plant City Commission since 2007. He knows how to handle a budget and how to wring efficiencies out of an operation. The engaging 55-year-old is no shrinking violet, but he doesn't claim to have all the answers. He would bring a common-sense touch and an appreciation for the needs of small business and local governments to Tallahassee. In House District 58, The Tribune endorses Dan Raulerson. Tomorrow: Districts 59, 62 and 63.
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