It’s tea partier versus Republican establishment in newly drawn district

Two GOP incumbents to face off in next week's Central Fla. primary

Published On: Aug 09 2012 05:13:13 PM EDT   Updated On: Aug 09 2012 09:07:30 PM EDT
ORLANDO, Fla. -

Republican voters in Central Florida next week must choose which of two incumbents should be returned to Congress, thanks to a newly drawn district.

On one side: Rep. Sandy Adams (R-Oviedo), who was swept into office on a tidal wave of tea party support in the 2010 midterm elections.

But she faces a formidable opponent: 10-term veteran, Rep. John Mica (R-Winter Park), who as chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, attracts hundreds of millions of tax dollars to Central Florida

Adams is not impressed.

“The voters have a very clear choice between a 20-year career politician or someone they sent there less than two years ago to fix the mess he helped create,” Adams said Thursday, after both candidates spoke to a Rotary Club meeting here.

Speaking of her tea party classmates in the freshman congressional class of 2010, Adams said, “We come in without the shackles and the ties and we come in with the message from the American people to … stop the spending, get the debt under control and repeal the health care law.”

Mica, whose $1.6 million fundraising haul is twice as large as Adams’, said he is proud of his record of bringing home federal tax dollars. “I am the best cheerleader in Congress for transportation and getting people working.”

Asked what her possible defeat may say about the lifespan of the tea party, Adams said, “I think it’s not just the tea party. A lot of people like to talk about this, but it’s the future of where we head as a country. In 2010, so many people stood up and said it’s time to get control of your spending Washington, start listening to the American people again.”

“We’re going to continue to work on behalf of the American people,” she said. Asked if that wasn’t what Mica has done for 20 years, she replied, “I guess you’ll have to ask him that.”

So we did.

“What would you do that she won’t do and why should you go back to Washington and not let these new tea party people have a chance?,” Mica was asked by Local 6.

“Well first of all, I’m pleased to get support from individual tea party members, Republican organizations, almost every local official,” Mica answered. “I think the difference is working with folks to get things done for their community. John Mica actually gets things done.”