District 89 State Rep. Mike Caruso is on the Nov. 3 ballot for re-election. Here’s what he had to say about his campaign and a rematch with Democrat Jim Bonfiglio.
Q: All the incumbents who had challengers won in the primary. What does that mean for you?
A: It suggests in these challenging times it is critical to have proven leadership. And that voters are generally satisfied with the results of the past two years. We still have work to do on issues such as education, the environment and health care. Now, due to Covid-19, that includes the budget.
Q: The district is Republican. Between registration and loyal Trump voters, will that give you a down ballot edge?
A: I represent all residents regardless of their party affiliation. I have never looked at this race that way. Voters in District 89 are educated, informed and involved. I believe my hard work, proven results and willingness to get things done with a bi-partisan approach is what matters.
Q: What are you proudest of accomplishing in the Legislature?
A: I wrote, sponsored and passed into law six bills. Placed federal definition of anti-Semitism in the Florida Statues. Provided for Holocaust and Black history education curriculum in our public schools. Decreased halfway and sober homes in our neighorhoods by 60%. Provided tens of millions of dollars of free health care to low-income and underserved communities. Provided hundreds of new professional jobs in District 89. I co-sponsored the Clean Waterways Act and teacher pay raises.
Q: What’s your platform and what do you want to accomplish in the next session?
A: I am looking forward to continuing my work on the environment and coastal flooding, education and healthcare. Also dealing with coronavirus in a comprehensive way and getting our economy going again.
Q: Obama predictably endorsed your Democratic opponent Jim Bonfiglio. How will that affect votes and turnout?
A: Races like these aren’t won on endorsements. They are won by hard work and connection with people. Jim wants to ride coat tails and slide into this seat. I’m the opposite, a public servant earning the support of my constituents every single day.
Q: How are you campaigning?
A: This is an all-out campaign including mailers, television, social media. And did I mention a few Caruso signs throughout town and 24,000 doors knocked on.
Q: A TV ad hit your opponent hard. Is taking an aggressive stance because the race was so close last time?
A: My opponent has been running a nasty negative campaign, even dragging my wife and family into it. It is important voters know the truth about what his agenda really is. Between attacking my family and his extreme views, he is just not the right guy for this job.
By Marci Shatzman