Aug. 19–PANAMA CITY — Voters assembled at the Bay County Democratic Women’s Club headquarters for “Coffee and Conversation” with one of Florida’s prominent politicians.
“You are in ground zero during this presidential election,” said U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla. “This election will be decided in this state.”
Nelson spoke Saturday at the headquarters in downtown Panama City in front of around 50 people. During the speech, light was shown on some of the statewide and national topics that will be on the forefront of discussion for Democrats during races in November.
Nelson covered a broad array of underlying themes that will influence voter’s decisions in November, like national security, education, infrastructure, alternative energy, NASA, oil production, the Citizens United decision, “voter suppression” and what Nelson described as a “blockade of any major economic revitalization” because of the polarization of current politics.
“It’s a miracle that we are still having 29 months of private sector job growth, despite what has been happening,” Nelson said.
Nelson is running for re-election against Republican challenger Connie Mack IV, but he did not address the campaign specifically.
The two major topics of concern for audience members were, not surprisingly, the economy and health care.
Dawn Amore, 60, a retired medical foster care provider, lives in Panama City with her retired husband and their seven adopted children, three of whom attended Nelson’s forum with her. Marissa, 13, the oldest of the three sat in a wheelchair while Nelson spoke.
“My children are uninsurable, by the virtue of what transpired before they were adopted,” Amore said. “My daughter had a severe, catastrophic, non-accidental brain injury. I have one at home that is autistic, secondary to fetal alcohol syndrome. I have one . . . that has significant mental health issues and even Medicaid doesn’t want to pay for the hospitalization he just had. They’re uninsurable, and they didn’t ask to be in that situation.”
Amore also expressed a sentiment many voters are familiar with.
“Both parties need to stop with all the distractions and negativity and have a civil discourse so people can legitimately decide what is best for the people of our country,” she said.
Besides the two major topics, Margarita Varela, a Puerto Rico-born member of the DWC, said diversity was an important subject, locally and nationally, for Democrats that was not addressed during Nelson’s speech.
“We are also very concerned with civil rights,” Varela said. “The most important thing about us is that we are a very diverse group, and we are all working so we all have the same opportunities in this great country.”
An earlier version of this story is posted below:
PANAMA CITY — U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., will speak Saturday in Panama City.
Nelson, in the midst of a hot Senate race with the GOP’s Rep. Connie Mack IV, R-Fort Myers, will deliver a speech to Democrats from Bay and nearby counties at 1 p.m. at the Bay County Democratic Women’s Club headquarters at 135 Harrison Ave.
Check back later for more details