Amid flurry of attacks between Democrats, Republican in Hillsborough clerk race pledges positive campaign
TAMPA — Republican Eric Seidel has a question for the two Democrats running in the Hillsborough County Clerks of the Court:
Can’t we just all get along?
Seidel, who will face the winner of the primary between incumbent Clerk Pat Frank and County Commissioner Kevin Beckner, signed a pledge Thursday vowing to run a positive campaign free of mudslinging and personal attacks. And he wants Frank and Beckner to sign it as well.
“Let’s join together now,” Seidel said in a press conference at Joe Chillura Courthouse Square Park. “Let’s show people, especially our younger folks, that politics is a higher calling and doesn’t need to be a race to the bottom.”
(Chillura, a former county commissioner, was on hand to lend support to Seidel.)
The Democratic primary, which will be settled Aug. 30, got off to a bleak start and hasn’t recovered.
Beckner said he was encouraged to run by Frank, who told him she planned to retire but then later changed her mind after he had already committed. Frank said she never made such a comment and Beckner jumped in before she made a decision whether to seek a fourth term.
The two haven’t been on speaking terms since. More recently, Beckner has flooded people’s mailboxes with fliers that claim Frank doesn’t support President Barack Obama and doesn't hire minorities to senior positions, and he created a website, PartTimePat.com, that depicts her as an absentee official.
While the two have sparred, Seidel, a longtime consumer lawyer for a local television station, has remained largely on the sidelines until today's press conference, instead focusing on building up his name recognition for what will likely be a difficult race against two very well-known politicians.
He has trailed both in fundraising, bringing in $97,000 to Beckner’s $221,000 and Frank’s $127,000. But since he didn’t have a primary opponent he hasn’t head to spend as much money and has nearly as much cash on hand as Beckner and more than Frank.
Seidel said he will contrast his ideas for the office against whoever wins the primary but will do so in a positive manner. Among the ideas he presented for the position, which oversees the court system, county finances and many public records, is to create how-to videos for customers utilizing the office.
“I know Kevin and Pat,” Seidel said. “I believe they are interested in maintaining this high standard. I believe they are above the kind of petty politics we’ve seen in recent weeks.”
“I want to wipe the slate clean,” he added. “Let’s start fresh from now on.”