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National Politics

Sink blasts Scott over handling of Trayvon Martin case

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Published:   |   Updated: March 18, 2013 at 07:44 PM
ST. PETERSBURG -

Alex Sink, former and possible future Democratic candidate for governor, blasted Gov. Rick Scott over his handling of the controversial shooting death of a Sanford teenager in a speech to a political discussion group Thursday.

If she were governor, Sink told the Suncoast Tiger Bay Club, "You wouldn't be getting some made-up statement from the press shop of the governor.

"If I were governor, I would be out front saying we have to stay calm, but justice must be done, it will be done, and we're going to be very aggressive about holding the FDLE accountable for reviewing the Sanford Police Department."

Sink lost narrowly to Scott in 2010, and has left the door open to running against him in 2012.

Her speech sounded passionate and partisan – much like a candidate -- including bashing the Republican presidential candidates for focusing on such issues as birth control.

Sink lost to Scott in 2010 by 1.2 percent, and is a top subject of speculation about which Democrat will challenge Scott, a Republican perceived as unpopular and vulnerable, in 2014.

Of the 2014 race, she said, "My response is the same to everybody, even to my own husband – I've learned never to say never. … That decision about whether I run again will be for a later time next year."

Asked about the controversy over insurance coverage for birth control, she said, "Can you believe that the contest for the presidency of the United States is going to be about birth control? … We need to be focused on the economy and education and the environment and a meaningful energy policy.

"Women come up to me outraged, particularly from a group of people who say -- what are their little lines, 'Less taxes, less government and more freedom' -- and they want to be in the bedroom and in the doctor's office with me?"

Asked which other Democratic candidates would be competitive in the governor's race, Sink named four, a couple of whom seem unlikely, but omitted several top subjects of speculation, including former Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio, state Democratic Party Chairman Rod Smith and state Sen. Nan Rich.

Sink named Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown, who took office in July; Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, who took office in April; Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer and Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jack Seiler.

Retired University of South Florida political scientist Darryl Paulson, a Republican who attended the meeting, said Sink omitted her toughest likely competitors if she runs, and criticized her for omitting Iorio and Rich after bashing Republican attitudes toward women.

When a questioner suggested the 2010 race had been "yours to lose," Sink denied that and defended her effort, saying she faced overwhelming forces – "a big tsunami of anti-Washington, anti-Democratic sentiment," plus the $72 million of his own money Scott spent.

She said Democratic candidates in Florida and nationwide, including expected winners, lost by larger margins than she did.

"When you get outspent 2:1 and the headwinds are against you, we just weren't quite able to come up with those last 60,000 votes," she said. "I am so sorry."

Sink responded to a question about the Martin case with obvious anger.

"When you hear the circumstances … in my opinion, if this had been a black man with a gun shooting a young, 17-year-old white boy, there's no doubt that the shooter would be in jail today."

Martin, visiting his father in a gated neighborhood in Sanford, was shot by a neighborhood watch captain while walking back after a trip to a convenience store for candy Feb. 28.

The shooter was not charged.

Sink praised Florida Department of Law Enforcement Gerald Bailey, and said as governor, she would have Bailey explain what the FDLE was doing to work with the FBI to investigate the case and review the work of the Sanford police.

"Let's face it – this is yet another thing that gives Florida a bad reputation nationally … a tragic, tragic situation," she said. "As the mother of a 24-year-old young man, my heart bleeds for this family."

She said the police didn't try to figure out why Martin, a "young man with a bag of Skittles and a can of iced tea, where he came from and what he was doing there. He belonged in one of those houses in that neighborhood."


wmarch@tampatrib.com (813) 259-7761

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