Political club and newspaper conflicts brought to light in wake of Tiger Bay candidate debate snub

Frank Bruno / Headline SurferDaytona Beach News-Journal Editor Pat Rice poses for a photo with State Senate GOP candidate and State Rep. Dorothy Hukill following a debate with fellow candidate Frank Bruno, a Democrat and Volusia County chair, shown at right. Rice moderated the private debate put on by The Tiger Bay Club of Volusia County.
Headline Surfer
DAYTONA BEACH -- Jason Davis, the upstart county chair candidate snubbed in an earlier Tiger Bay Club debate that featured fellow candidates Carl Persis and Ted Doran, remained an after-thought Tuesday with a new debate between dist. 8 State Senate candidates Dorothy Hukill and Frank Bruno.

With the appearance of egg on its face after Davis finished second in the Aug. 14 primary to Persis to force a runoff in November, Tiger Bay turned to the biggest political heavyweights, Republican State Rep. Hukill and Democrat Bruno, Volusia's county chair. 

Tiger Bay may have egg on its face again. That's because Headline Surfer learned after Tuesday's debate that Doran and his law partners, Larry Sims and Michael Ciochetti, of Doran, Sims, Ciocchetti, are listed as "corporate sponsors" on the club's website.

Davis was less than pleased when informed what Headline Surfer had discovered on Tiger Bay's website.

"That's not right," Davis said. "I did not agree with what they did and the newspaper not reporting those connections," he said of the News-Journal, "but as an American veteran, I will fight to the death for their right to make those decisions in a free country."

Davis said his showing in the primary was a vindication for being purposely left out of what should have been a three-way debate last month with former county councilman Persis of Ormond Beach and power attorney Doran of Ponce Inlet. All three were vying in the August primary to determine who would succeed Bruno as county chair.

Davis, a registered Republican in the non-partisan race, only had $4,000 in campaign funds at his disposal in the in the primary while Democrats Persis and Duran each had upwards of $200,000 at their disposal. 

Stan Escudero, chair of the Volusia County GOP executive committee, said his appeals to Tiger Bay for the Davis snub fell on deaf ears.

"Two weeks prior to the debate, I asked that Jason be allowed to participate and the Tiger Bay Club turned us down."

Doran and Persis agreed in separate interviews Wednesday that Davis should have been included, but neither came to his aid when it mattered. Asked if he was involved in the decision-making for that debate, Doran responded, "I had nothing to do with it," adding he was not consulted by Tiger Bay's executive board led by its president Karen Glans. She did not return a voice-mail message for comment Wednesday.

Persis said although he knew before the debate that Davis was not included, having read it in the newspaper, he said up to that point he had "just assumed he was going to be included."

Unlike Tiger Bay's candidate debates, which require attendees to pay a fee, Headline Surfer held three public candidate debates earlier this month at the Oak Hill City Hall for mayor of that city, the race for county council dist. 3 and the county chair between Davis and Persis. Those video debates will be published shortly, along with stories and photos.

Headline Surfer held eight candidate debates on July 21, at the Brannon Center in New Smyrna Beach, including that of the county chairmanship between Davis, Persis and Doran. All eleven of Headline Surfer's debates have included citizens in asking questions of the candidates. Headline Surfer is planning several more candidate debates for at least two more county council seats and the first public debate for Hukill and Bruno.