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Politics Playing Central Role In Curfew Vs Stay-At-Home Debate

Republican County Commissioner Sandra Murman, left, and Democratic Tampa Mayor Jane Castor, right, are at odds over stay-at-home policy
Republican County Commissioner Sandra Murman, left, and Democratic Tampa Mayor Jane Castor, right, are at odds over stay-at-home policy

On Wednesday, an emergency policy group of Hillsborough County officials is expected to vote on enacting an overnight curfew. It comes two days after the group voted down a plan by Tampa Mayor Jane Castor to issue a shelter-in-place order for county residents.

She decided Tuesday to go it alone and issue that order for city residents.

Political analyst and columnist William March says politics is playing a big role in this debate.

"Everyone wants to be nonpartisan, non-political, in a situation like this and be dedicated only to the community's welfare," he said. "But let's face it, you simply cannot totally rent the politics out of an elected office holder. They don't work that way."

The majority of the Hillsborough Emergency Policy Group who voted against Castor's ideas are Republican. Castor is a Democrat. And that divide, March says, is fueling some rancor.

"I'm seeing more and more conservatives starting to argue that the cure could be worse than the disease," he said. "That the kind of economic destruction that a nationwide stay at home order would cause is not worth the alternative. It's not worth it to try and contain a fairly limited number of cases.

"Nationwide and in Florida, you're seeing more Republicans following the lead of Donald Trump, who doesn't want to use extreme or strong government action to combat this," March said. "Democrats, on the other hand, are saying strong government action is needed."

But Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican, is not moving toward issuing any statewide stay-at-home order.

"The governor is experiencing strong pressure from Democrats. And again, you're seeing a political break here," March said. "Democrats are urging stronger action, quicker action and Gov. DeSantis is somewhat resisting. And again, it's at least partly a partisan political break nationwide.

"And in Florida, you're seeing more Republicans following the lead of Donald Trump, who doesn't want to use extreme or strong government actions to combat this," March said. "Democrats, on the other hand, are saying strong government action is needed, while Republicans are worried more and more about shutting down the economy."

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