INDIAN ROCKS BEACH - If Mike Petruccelli wonders if Rod Jones, one of his opponents in next Tuesday's District 54 primary for a House seat, wants to go to Tallahassee to represent the people or a special interest, who could blame him.
Question - Why would a $160,000 war chest with contributions from all all over the country and from major national firms be necessary for a district in little old Pinellas County?
Petruccelli might be wondering if Jones is seeking a job in Tallahassee for the benefit of just plain folks around here or for the furtherance of Jones & Co.
Jones & Co. is the enterprise Rod Jones has with his father, Dennis Jones, who is already ensconced in the Florida Senate after having run out his term limited time in the same seat young Jones now seeks.
The father and son team are chiropractors - pretty neat, having one in the Senate and the other in the House (possibly) taking care of folks who took care of them.
Big money has flowed in. Jones pere obviously cashed in "due bills" from all over the country. Connect the dots and you get the idea that those big company contributors certainly must feel they will have another friend in Tallahassee with Jones fils.
Much of the money for Jones's campaign has come from the chiropractic community. Other funds have reportedly come from gambling interests and still others from folks who have business before the regulated industries committee Jones senior chairs.
Young Jones says he's gotten these donations because of personal friendships and connections, not because of his father, a claim that has caused snickers and guffaws of laughter in the community.
Of course, it is perfectly obvious what the game is. Daddy Jones is the chief fund raiser for the boy.
But Mike Petruccelli has been up to challenges before.
His order of business, should he successfully gain the seat, is the eminent domain question and insurance issues. He claims that insurance firms have had a dominating influence in the Legislature. He wants that to end.
Because of the storm potential on these shores, a form of redlining, Petruccelli says, has emerged. He doesn't like this.
When he was a very young kid in Brockton, Massachusetts, he had a real live hero in Rocky Marciano. There was a cousinly family connection to the world's heavyweight boxing champion, and Petruccelli has the same toughness that Rocky had.
Marciano, a gentle and quiet spoken fellow out of the ring, had the demeanor of rough and tough street fighter when he was trodding the canvas.
Petruccelli has the same instincts. The guy was a walk on candidate for the football team at Western Kentucky. He needed a spot on the football team so that he might eventually get a scholarship.
That happened after a high school career at Dixie Hollins High School. Petruccelli's family moved to Pinellas County almost 50 years ago and you could say he grew up here - practically a native, as it were.
He also wanted a military career and was in the college's ROTC program but a football injury foreclosed that dream.
As a walk on - that's a hopeful player who has not been recruited, but shows up anyway and tries to make the team - at Western Kentucky, Petruccelli had an uphill fight but he made it.
Walk-ons are usually winners and Petruccelli has been a winner.
After studying business administration at Western Kentucky, Petruccelli worked for Prudential in Louisville, Ky., and then got back to St. Petersburg, working in insurance, in 1972. He's been in Pinellas County since and has two married daughters and a bachelor son who is a deputy sheriff in Pasco County.
Petrucclli has been associated with Century 21 Plumlee Real Estate since 1997.
In addition to his concerns over eminent domain and insurance, Petruccelli focuses on rising property taxes and the illegal alien problem.
As to taxes, he has said, "I don't like hitting the little guy," he says. "There must be greater equity."
As to the illegals who are swamping this country, Petruccelli says he respects anyone who wants to come to America and better him or herself as his ancestors did.
"But they must do it legally," he says. "My folks, like those of all the rest of us, had to go through the process. We have to have law abiding citizens, starting right at the beginning."
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