Dombrowski, Hosemann trade accusations

Secretary of State candidate Ricky Dombrowski wants to run elections, even though he doesn't vote, incumbent Delbert Hosemann says in a new campaign mailer . Dombrowski says Hosemann is just trying to distract voters from his power play to "steal" Coast harbors from municipalities. Hosemann contends that his office should have control over state tidelands, including those in municipal harbors. He has been requiring localities to sign harbor leases with his office, even in cases where cities have managed their own harbors for decades. Dombrowski, a Gulfport city councilman, was so incensed by what he views as a Hosemann power play that Dombrowski decided to run for secretary of state. Dombrowski's campaign sent out a news release Wednesday saying that Hosemann wants to charge Coast residents a 30 percent tax on harbors. What Hosemann actually wanted to do was collect 30 percent of revenue from any commercial leases that localities have in their harbors. The cities didn't go for it, so the leases have wound up as zero-dollar propositions. The leases do give Hosemann authority over what can be placed in the harbors, expansion plans and other operations that had in the past been left to cities. Hosemann has some allegations of his own to level, too. He has mailed out a campaign ad that says Dombrowski did not vote in 2003, 2007 or 2010. Hosemann's ad says: The Secretary of State is Chief Elections Officer for our entire State . . . There just one problem -- Ricky Dombrowski doesn't even vote." Hosemann campaign manager Philllip Casey said he checked the records carefully and, no, he wasn't looking at the voting record of Dombrowski's son, as Dombrowski suggested. The two have the same first name, but different middle initials. Dombrowski said he had every intention of voting in 2010, but got busy and didn't make it to the polls. He said he thought that he had voted in 2003 and 2007. That's not what the record shows, Casey says. Dombrowski's campaign quickly whipped out a retort, a news release that says Hosemann wants to talk about an old voting record instead of his "attempt to steal over $150 million in Gulf Coast property." -- ANITA LEE