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Thursday, April 15, 2010

Republican Candidates Debate At Luncheon Meeting

Many key national issues are openly discussed
By Bo McMullian
Both are Tallahassee Republican congressional candidates and both seriously want to retire District 2 U.S. Rep. Allen Boyd, but that’s about all they have in common. Dianne Berryhill wants term limits. Charles Ranson is against term limits. He wants more sunset provisions on regulatory laws. She sees little need for that approach.
“You two disagree on everything,’ moderator Ben Odom remarked Tuesday at the Republican Club’s monthly luncheon and debates at Jim’s Steak House in Marianna. “That’s unlike (District 2 Republican candidates (Eddie) Hendry and (Steve) Southerland, our previous guests.”
Berryhill, 59, is an accountant and political activist. Ranson, 62, is an attorney and businessman. She’s from Arkansas and degreed from Christian Brothers college in Memphis, Tenn., but has lived in Tallahassee for the past 22 years with her husband Don who is retired from the Department of Environmental Protection and works for the private firm Angie Brewer and Associates. Ranson was raised in Apopka, Florida, and received his law degree from Florida State University in 1973, according to his wife of 40 years Sheryl who attended Tuesday’s debate. He’s a civil lawyer who has worked with the Florida House of Representatives.
The two first-time political candidates disagreed on much but both presented organized, very well thought-out proposals with which to “fix this country.” Both have only been candidates for a few months but each has a clear vision of what needs to be done in Washington.
Berryhill is a fiery, tireless activist conservative who was in Tallahassee in 2000, she said, making sure George W. Bush took Florida. She says she knew from the moment President Barack Obama was elected what direction he would take. “We are on the march to socialism,” she declared in her opening remarks. “We need to be better off than we’re doing with Allen Boyd up there.”
Boyd has been in Washington for seven two-year terms. This infuriates Berryhill, whose youngest son is a Marine headed for Afghanistan. “It’s a service, not a career,” she said. “(Our representatives) need to spend five days at work each week, not three. And the pork barrel has got to go. I do not trust the voters to vote out incumbents. How aware were you two years ago of everything Allen Boyd has done? He sits on an agriculture committee and gets $1.2 million in farm subsidies for his own farm. We need term limits. We are in the fight of our life with our country and we better get it right this time. Term limits are part of the answer.” She wants eight years max for congressmen and 12 years for senators.
Ranson said the “most effective term limits is to vote incumbents out” when necessary. He argued that term limits would make the politicians rely too much on staff members and that would make staff members “who nobody knows who they are” too powerful. “I do trust the voters,” he said. He added that he would seek no more than three terms.
Ranson is adamant about term limits on laws and bills passed. “Every program, whether regulatory or social welfare, should be subject to sunset provisions,” he said. “We create these programs, the market changes, but the regulatory programs stay and that can stand in the way of growth. It’s the only way we can bring discipline to the programs.”
Berryhill interjected that sunset reviews weren’t part of her concerns. “If it’s a bad law, we’ll get rid of it,” she said. But Ranson rebutted that “without the hammer of forced sunset, you have no power to rein it in. You need to have the power of repeal.”
Ranson has “mixed feelings” about farm subsidies; Berryhill fully supports them. Both objected to Boyd getting subsidies on his sod farm.
“The subsidies help control our market prices,” she said. “They act as a control on the overabundance of crops. It’s not an entitlement, it’s a control so we don’t overproduce. Subsidies are extremely important.”
Ranson said farmers are the “ultimate entrepreneur” and that his grandfather was a farmer in South Carolina. (His father was a Presbyterian minister.) “But the reliance on subsidies may cause the farmer not to take risks. Subsidies can be misused and stand in the way of the evolution of agriculture.”
Both candidates oppose “earmarks” and pork barrel spending in general. Ranson considers them “vote buying” and photo ops for reelection. “Earmarks?,” Berryhill said. “Sorry. Not going to happen with me.” She lauded the new governor of New Jersey who is cutting the state budgets there. “We’re all going to have to give a little bit.”
There has never been a Republican elected to the 2nd Congressional District of Florida. Boyd also faces a challenger in the Democratic Primary in August, State Senator Al Lawson. Paul McKain is running as an Independent, having left the Florida Whig Party.
Berryhill was a Democrat until she switched to the Republican Party 20 years ago, she told the TIMES. Ranson is also a former Democrat, he said. Berryhill ran the campaign for Marco Rubio for Senate in Leon County until she decided to run in February. Ranson says, “to repeal the health care bill, we must first get rid of the ‘Gang of 8,’ those incumbents including Boyd who first voted against the national health care bill, then voted for it.”

1 comment:

  1. It's bickering like this that we can do without. They can't even agree on term limits? I've looked at all of the candidates, both democrat and republican, and Paul McKain is the best choice for me. I'm tired of these political parties being more important than the voter.