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The staff of the Tampa Bay Times

That's not an endorsement of Larry Ahern, it's just an ad for a fundraiser



SEMINOLE -- Some folks wondered if the Seminole Chamber of Commerce had dropped its longstanding policy against endorsing political candidates when they received their newsletter this month. The first insert was a notice of a fundraiser for Larry Ahern, a Republican candidate for state House District 51 currently held by Democrat Janet Long, who's running for re-election.

The endorsement question arose because of the number of heavy hitters from the chamber who were listed as members of the host committee: Past-President Paul Ziegler, board of directors members Laverne Welch and Jacob Valentine, and former president "Doc" Kinsey. The committee also has some other notables: former state Rep. Roger Wilson, Seminole council member Bob Matthews, and Pinellas County Commissioner Nancy Bostock.

But Seminole Mayor Jimmy Johnson, who is also executive director of the Chamber, said the flier is nothing more than paid advertising.

The Chamber, said Johnson, endorses issues at times, but never candidates.

"I'm the mayor," he said, "and they don't even endorse me!"

As for the flier, any candidate who wants to plonk down $50, can include one in the newsletter to the 350 or so folks on the mailing list. Long, he said, has sent out fliers in the past informing folks of open houses and the like.

Ahern's fundraiser is 5 to 7 p.m. June 30 at Boulevard Bistro, 8595 Seminole Blvd. For information, call (727) 381-2166.

District 51 covers South Pasadena, Seminole and parts of Pinellas Park, Largo and the unincorporated Lealman area.

-- Anne Lindberg, Times Staff Writer

[Last modified: Thursday, September 16, 2010 3:40pm]


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