Source: Orlando Sentinel (FL)
Copyright: 1998 Orlando Sentinel
Pubdate: Thu, 22 Oct 1998
Author: Robert Perez of The Sentinel Staff


Growing up in Queens, N.Y. in the late 1950s, Al Krulick and his brother
would rise at dawn each Saturday to watch their favorite cartoon. They
followed the adventures of Crusader Rabbit and Rags the Tiger as the
cartoon characters fought for justice.

Now at age 46, Al Krulick wants to fight for justice in Congress.

Krulick, an Orlando Democrat and Walt Disney World actor, is making his
second run at one of the longest-serving incumbents in Central Florida,
U.S. Rep. Bill McCollum, R-Longwood.

Even though he has little money and little chance of beating the entrenched
conservative, Krulick is on the stump daily.

Despite McCollum's eight successful re-election bids, Krulick insists he is
more like the residents of District 9, which takes in most of Orange County
and parts of Osceola.

``In terms of the fact that I go to work for a big company, that I get
caught in traffic, that I have a small house, that I've got a wife who has
to work part time to make ends meet, that I've got two kids,'' Krulick

But his stand on certain issues may not sit well with Central Florida's

Krulick said the ``war on drugs'' has failed and eroded Americans' rights.
He favors scrapping the ``expensive, punitive approach'' for treatment and

By contrast, McCollum drafted the Western Hemisphere Drug Elimination Act,
which allocates more than $2 billion over three years to stop the flow of
drugs into the country.

Krulick supports medical use of marijuana and criticizes McCollum for
denying relief for cancer and AIDS patients.

McCollum won't support medical use of marijuana until the U.S. Food and
Drug Administration approves it, he said. His earlier support for medical
marijuana was misguided, he added.

Krulick wants campaign finance reform that would reduce special-interest
and lobbying pressure on elected officials. He supports publicly funded
campaigns for candidates who show they have broad support, Krulick said.

McCollum, who opposes public campaign financing, said he supports greater
limits on individual contributions. He also favors a tax credit for them.
Once those changes are in place, McCollum said, he would support
eliminating political action committee contributions, but not before.

More than 45 percent of McCollum's contributions have come from political
action committees, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

Krulick doesn't favor term limits. But McCollum, who is seeking his 10th
term, said he does.

Legislators ought to serve as long as their constituents return them to
office, Krulick said. He chastises McCollum for giving lip service to the
issue to get votes. ``I told Bill, `If you believe in this so strongly, why
don't you just leave? Why don't you be a leader?"'

McCollum said the House has twice passed legislation he sponsored that
would limit federal elected officials to 12 years in the House and 12 years
in the Senate. But it hasn't received the two-thirds vote necessary to send
it to the states for ratification.

Until term limits become the law, McCollum will not step down voluntarily.

What makes McCollum even tougher to beat are the benefits of incumbency.
Not only has McCollum outspent Krulick by more than 20-to-1 in the
campaign, he has basked in the national media spotlight as a member of the
House Judiciary Committee investigating President Clinton.

Krulick said there's nothing he can do about McCollum being the
third-ranking Republican on the committee. But he said McCollum's moral
hard line with Clinton is demagoguery, if not outright hypocrisy.

While not condoning Clinton's behavior, Krulick said McCollum's proposed
juvenile justice bill is more appalling. ``The moral underpinnings of that
juvenile justice legislation is worse that the immorality of Bill Clinton's
peccadillos,'' Krulick said.

The bill would provide $500 million to the states to spend on juvenile
justice. The legislation would require states to pass laws that would
punish juvenile offenders in some way starting with their first
misdemeanor. The bill did not pass during the last session.

McCollum defends the bill because it teaches troubled youth there are
consequences for their actions.

Krulick, who got 33 percent of the vote in his 1996 challenge of McCollum,
has the philosophical backing of his party, if not its financial support.
State and national party officials would like to see McCollum beaten, but
party money has gone elsewhere.

Krulick has used the Internet to get his message out. Surfers who go to will find extensive information about the candidate.
McCollum has no election website -- not that he needs one. As of Aug. 12,
he had raised almost $650,000 to Krulick's $16,800.

So Krulick understands the odds, but works hard each day and night to get
his message across.

``I tell myself every day that regardless of the odds against me,
regardless of the fact that people are cynical and don't care, that I'm not
going to give up hope on the system.''

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Checked-by: Joel W. Johnson