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Oil drilling pits Dem against Dem in one House race

Seeking to distinguish himself from Democratic primary opponent Rep. Michelle Rehwinkel Vasilinda, candidate Rick Minor this morning held a press conference in which he vowed not to take any contributions from organizations or lobbyists representing the push for offshore drilling.

"I believe it's important to demonstrate the type of leadership I will bring to the capital," said Minor, running against Rehwinkel Vasilinda for the district that includes Leon and Jefferson counties.

Minor, who was until recently chairman of the Leon County Democratic Party, said a 'cursory look' at his contributions so far doesn't show any donations tied to oil. But statewide, Democrats have received tens of thousands from oil and related interests. Among those Democrats: Rehwinkel Vasilinda, who voted last session for the last-minute proposal to drill offshore (it passed the House 70-43 but died for lack of Senate support, and is being pushed again for the 2010 session).

Holding a press conference gave Minor a chance to remind the press of Rehwinkel Vasilinda's voting history, which he called "irresponsible." She maintains she voted yes because the bill included millions for universities to research clean energy alternatives

"I actually worked hard as party chairman to get her elected," Minor said. "I gave her the maximum $500 contribution. But the last straw was her vote. I said, 'This is too much.' ...You can't sell your soul for something that has such a high cost."

Campaign finance records show Rehwinkel Vasilinda has raised over $40,000 toward her re-election, with donations coming from drilling proponents including Southern Strategies and its lobbyist David Rancourt and his wife -- along with public relations company owner Ron Sachs and his firm, Ron Sachs Communications, hired by oil drilling proponents.