Panama City - Some might say the honeymoon is over for freshman congressman Steve Southerland. Local democratic organizations, upset with his recent voting record, protested outside of Southerland's Panama City office Tuesday. And he's already drawing opposition in next year's election.
Southerland's "no" vote on the debt deal Monday helped generate this protest. Those dozen or so protesters said they weren't just protesting against Southerland, but the whole process we've seen play-out in Washington the past couple of weeks.
Less than an hour after the senate approved the new debt deal on Tuesday, Bill Pritchard and about ten others lined Eleventh Street. Pritchard says he's glad congress passed the deal, but he's not happy with some with way some representatives handled themselves, including Southerland.
"These people have adopted hostage taking tactics...And this time it was like nice economy you got there. It's too bad if something were to happen to it," Pritchard said.
Last Friday, Southerland told us why he would not vote for any plan that would not save the nation's credit rating.
"Higher interest rates are not acceptable and this plan does not meet that matrix. One of the requirements in their matrix is they want a long term plan that cuts our debt by 4 trillion dollars at least in ten years," Southerland said in an interview last Friday.
The plan that passed Tuesday does not cut that much. So Southerland voted no saying he's dedicated to limiting wasteful federal spending. But these protesters claims most of Southerland's votes don't support Northwest Florida. And it doesn't look like it's going to get easier for the first term congressman.
Former republican state senator and public service commissioner Nancy Argenziano announced Monday she'll run for Southerland's seat in 2012. The moderate republican says she will probably switch to the democratic party because she believes the republican party has abandoned its principles.
Argenziano recently retired from her public service commission spot that former governor Charlie Christ appointed her to. Argenziano lives in Citrus County, so she'd have to move to the panhandle to be eligible to run.