By Steve Miller | Watchdog
Outspent and on the very losing end of a straw poll last week, U.S. Rep. Sandy Adams appears to have some wicked odds against her as she contests U.S. Rep. John Mica in the GOP primary for the newly configured 7th Congressional District in northeast Florida.
Adams, 55, a former sheriff’s deputy and Air Force enlistee, is clearly the challenger. She and Mica were drawn into the district, where Mica, 69, has 72 percent of his old constituents in the seat he has held since 1993.
Mica leads decidedly, 69 to 31 percent in a recent straw poll out of Seminole County, the largest of four counties in the district.
Adams has faced some long odds before. She took her seat in her 24th Congressional District from Democratic incumbent Suzanne Kosmas in 2010 in the tea party wave, despite being outspent almost 2-to-1.
Adams prevailed with considerable come-from-behind flair, raising 11th-hour cash and using stump help from former Alaska governor turned tea party king(queen)maker Sarah Palin. Ads casting Kosmas as a stimulus-voting Washington insider helped Adams cruise to 60 percent of the vote.
The strategy she used to hammer Kosmas will have to be used to take on Mica, a Beltway establishment figure himself. On the surface, Mica and Adams are about as different as an ‘R’ and a ‘D.’ And that’s what her campaign in banking on.
Start with earmarks: Adams has been an outspoken foe of one of the most common Beltway practices, although her taking office coincided with a bipartisan condemnation of earmarks, making it an easy proclamation.
Mica between 2008 and 2010 sponsored 30 earmarks worth more than $21 million. Among those he got through in 2010 was $750,000 in Homeland Security funding for Flagler Beach, population 4,484.
And he’s not too crazy about the tea party. He defends his stance with a platitude – “I seek the support of everybody” – but avoided addressing the role such a movement could have on his race in an interview this week.
Adams embraces the tea party and maintains that it’s an inclusive club composed of all political persuasions with a central sentiment, “that we are a nation of laws that we should follow.”
She added that she would welcome the support of Palin once again.
She also voted ‘yes’ to move forward the state’s rail transit line when she was in the Florida House.
Adams has embraced another common practice on the Hill, double dipping.
Adams last year received $19,567 in state retirement benefits as she earned $174,400 for her duty in Washington. Her service as a sheriff’s deputy, combined with her time as a state representative, gives her 25 years in the state pension system, she said.
Mica served two terms at the Florida Legislature, 1976-1980, lacking the six years needed to secure a lawmaker pension payment.
Mica, though, has engaged in a different dance popular with D.C. lawmakers, doling out favors to family members.
According to a report released earlier this year by the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, Mica secured an earmark for a rail project supported by a client of his daughter’s public relations firm.
In an interview, Mica said that it was “unfortunate” that redistricting had put two Republican incumbents together.
As far as Adams’ candidacy, “I think Sandy got some bad advice,” Mica said. “I think Sandy got some bad advice from Jason Roe. … Jason lost his Florida base and moved to California and is using Sandy to try and slay me and establish himself as a giant killer. He advised her poorly. This is not Sandy’s idea.”
Roe is a consultant to Adams and was involved in her ascent to Congress in 2010. He denied that Adams’ candidacy had anything to do with his own career path.
“I don’t tell my clients where to run,” Roe said. “I was a giant slayer in 2010, when Sandy was outspent and she won. She was one of two freshmen in the country to get 60 percent of the vote.”
Adams said that she had told Mica she was going to run in the 7th District when the redistricting was complete.
“He told me he has $1 million,” she said, in an attempt to deter her candidacy.
Adams reported $459,305 cash on hand to Mica’s $1.2 million as of the end of March.
The primary is Aug. 14.
Steve Miller is a reporter at Texas Watchdog