Congressional Dist. 3: Three newcomers compete for congressional seat


Published: Saturday, October 27, 2012 at 10:58 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, October 27, 2012 at 10:58 p.m.

Many residents of North Central Florida will see new blood in Congress for the first time in a generation, as Republican Ted Yoho and Democrat J.R. Gaillot head to the wire in the new 3rd Congressional District.

Facts

CANDIDATE BIOS

Philip Dodds
Age: 39
Residence: Alachua
Education: Bachelor’s degree in mathematics from University of Florida
Occupation: Medical software products manager
Political experience: No

J.R. Gaillot
Age: 43
Residence: Fleming Island
Education: Quisqueya Christian School in Port-au-Prince, Haiti; bachelor’s degree in politics and government from University of Hartford in West Hartford, Conn.
Occupation: Small business owner
Political experience: Interned for Sen. Lowell Weicker Jr.

Ted Yoho
Age: 57
Residence: Gainesville
Education: Graduate of the University of Florida (bachelor’s and doctorate of veterinary medicine)
Occupation: Veterinarian
Political experience: No

In August, Yoho, a Gainesville veterinarian making his first bid for elected office, cleared the biggest hurdle during an improbable trek to Capitol Hill by beating 12-term incumbent U.S. Rep. Cliff Stearns of Ocala.

Yoho, a tea party favorite, survived a four-candidate GOP primary by defeating Stearns by 875 votes. In that contest, Yoho also beat state Sen. Steve Oelrich of Gainesville and Clay County Court Clerk Jimmy Jett of Fleming Island.

Yoho expresses many of the conventional Republican views.

On social issues, for instance, he touts himself as pro-gun and anti-abortion.

Yoho also calls for greater deregulation of the economy, including repealing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, and simplifying the tax code. Yoho supports the Fair Tax, a proposed national sales tax that would replace most federal taxes.

Yoho also favors a “drill here, drill now and drill responsibly” policy on oil exploration and wants the controversial Keystone Pipeline built. He would support alternative energy projects so long as they are “market driven” and not subsidized by the government. He has called for the abolition of the Department of Energy.

Gaillot, meanwhile, hopes to win over voters in the conservative-leaning 3rd District by offering himself as a centrist Democrat.

For instance, he opposes provisions of the National Defense Authorization Act that allows the military to detain American citizens suspected as terrorists indefinitely and without their right to trial, criticizes the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act for doing little to block the government from utilizing warrantless wiretaps to intercept the communications of American citizens and backs efforts to fully audit the Federal Reserve, the nation’s central bank.

Yet Gaillot, a Fleming Island resident and owner of a cellphone accessories store, also embraces his party’s views on many issues.

He supports the Affordable Care Act, rejects Republican plans to turn Medicare into a voucher system and to privatize Social Security and believes the tax cuts passed under President George W. Bush should be allowed to lapse at the end of the year.

Gaillot says, if elected, he would work to expand the Gainesville airport, to loosen lending restrictions on credit unions, to make it easier for farmers to get loans and to double the tax credit for college tuition expenses from $4,000 a year to $8,000.

Also running for the seat is independent Philip Dodds, who is running on a platform of direct democracy. Dodds pledges to let the public determine how he votes on bills through a website that allows people to cast their straw poll votes for various measures before Congress.

Dodds also wants to run a campaign free from the influence of lobbyists and special interests so that he can vote his conscience. He has raised just $12,300 for his campaign, according to the Federal Elections Commission, including $7,500 of his own money.

The 3rd Congressional District spans much of North Central Florida, encompassing all or part of 13 counties from the Gulf Coast to the state line to the Jacksonville suburbs, including Marion County west of Interstate 75.

Although Democrats narrowly outnumber Republicans in the district, four years ago, John McCain easily beat Barack Obama in the region, taking 57 percent of the vote.

Q. Explain your foreign policy. Specifically, how should the United States deal with nations like Iran and North Korea that threaten U.S. interests with their nuclear ambitions?

Dodds: Militarily, I agree with Ron Paul and Dennis Kucinich, among others, in this sense: The United States should not promote empire. We should not police the world. The United States will be stronger and more secure if we balance our budget first. We are the most powerful nation on earth. Our enemies know the key to beating the United States is not in face-to-face confrontation. The key to beating the United States is the United States. A single act of terrorism opened the door to overstretching our military and $10 trillion in additional debt. We overreacted and made ourselves weaker than any foreign military could. We lost more than we gained in the Afghanistan and Iraq wars.

Gaillot: President Obama is carrying out a firm policy of harsh sanctions against Iran and North Korea, including orchestrating an international boycott of Iranian oil as well as an isolation of Iran from sources of investment. North Korea is more of a threat than Iran at this time. There is no concrete proof that Iran is developing nuclear weapons. Currently we stay the course and continue to monitor both nations.

Yoho: I would like to approach foreign policy with the Reagan philosophy — If you attack us or our allies, we win and you lose. We can no longer afford to be involved in conflicts all over the world, policing areas in which we have no business. Maintaining a strong military and strong economy is the best way to deter conflict. Finally, we need to be strong in protecting our allies such as Israel and never waiver in our stance.

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