RESULT: Vern Buchanan (R) 56% – Christine Jennings (D) 38%
Representative Vern Buchanan (R-FL) defeated former Sarasota banker Christine Jennings (D) in 2006. Jennings lost to Buchanan by 369 votes and contested the result, claiming that over 18,000 votes were not counted. There is an ongoing federal investigation into the touch screen voting machines that were used in the race. [Sarasota Herald Tribune, 5/08/08] Jan Schneider has also entered the race as an Independent; she was the Democratic nominee in 2002 and 2004 against former Rep. Katherine Harris. [The Hill, 5/06/08] In August 2008, allegations began to surface that Rep. Buchanan hired undocumented workers to help with projects around his $8 million home. A video from American News Project examines these allegations. [American News Project, 8/19/08]
The Buchanan Position:
ENFORCEMENT ONLY. In 2006 Buchanan, “appealed strongly to Republican conservatives in the primary, emphasizing a tough stance on immigration and opposition to abortion.” [Sarasota Herald-Tribune, 9/6/06] Buchanan is against amnesty and advocates “common sense reform,” which would secure the border, enforce existing laws, issue tamper-proof ID cards for non-citizens, and create an instant verification system for employers to check the legal status of workers. [Buchanan House Press Releases, 6/27/07; 6/08/07] Buchanan also says that Congress should strengthen U.S. Customs and Border Protection and that “border security must be our highest priority.” [Buchanan House Press Release, 5/21/07] His campaign issued mailers depicting the border fence as a “few strands of barbed wire tied to a leaning and rotted fence post.” [Sarasota Herald Tribune, 5/12/08] In Congress, Buchanan has voted consistently for hard-line immigration policies and is a member of the House anti-immigration caucus started by Rep. Tom Tancredo.
The Jennings Positions:
COMPREHENSIVE REFORMER. Jennings agrees with Buchanan’s position to increase border security and enforce existing laws, but also supports a path to citizenship for undocumented workers. According to her campaign website, Jennings believes “We are a nation of immigrants, but we are also a nation of laws. I believe immigration reform must start by strengthening our borders, enforcing current laws, penalizing employers that knowingly hire illegal immigrants and ensuring that immigrants pay their fair share of taxes for the social services they use. These policies should also be coupled with a program that allows immigrants who maintain employment, pay taxes, obey the law and learn English an opportunity to apply for earned citizenship.” [Jennings Campaign Website, Accessed 8/22/08]
The Schneider Positions:
UNKNOWN. Schneider’s campaign website and a news search revealed no information on her immigration stance.