Debating for the first time in the state Senate District 18 race, South Tampa Republican Dana Young had her voting record pummeled by her three more-liberal male opponents at the Reeves Theatre on the University of Tampa campus Wednesday.
Young has maintained a fairly conservative record in her six years representing House District 60, a record her Democratic first-time opponent, Bob Buseing, has said is out of the mainstream of the voters in SD 18 which, like HD 60, encompasses South Tampa and much of western Hillsborough County.
Young has moved up in House leadership during her tenure, and is currently majority leader. She’s also raised more than a combined $2.3 million in the race, between her own campaign and her political committee, “Friends of Dana Young.” With just six days before the voting stops, her appearance on Wednesday was the first time she has met her opponents for a debate. And they were ready to attack her from the get-go.
“Dana Young wants to hide her record as a career politician,” said independent candidate Joe Redner in kicking off the forum, indicating what was in store for her and the audience for the next hour-plus. “She wants to hide that she takes millions of dollars from every special interest pulling the strings.”
Buesing followed suit, offering an aggressive take on Young’s stance on virtually every issue raised by the UT students in the audience. Seconds into his opening statement, he announced he was opposed to fracking, and immediately criticized Young for voting for the measure in this past session.
Young’s record on fracking has been seized upon by her opponents and environmental groups this election cycle. She has insisted that her support for Florida HB 191 the past winter was NOT a pro-fracking vote, a stance she maintained throughout the debate.
Critics have claimed she voted against allowing local governments have their autonomy on whether they want to