UPDATED: Will Hackworth run against Susan Latvala?
Former Dunedin Mayor Bob Hackworth said Friday morning that he's "within days" of deciding whether to challenge County Commissioner Susan Latvala in this year's election.
Hackworth, a Democrat who lost by 22 percentage points in 2008 to U.S. Rep. C.W. Bill Young, said a recent poll was encouraging.
UPDATE: Read Tom Eldon's summary (Download 0210 Pinellas CC Memo) of the results here. The distillation: It's not good for Latvala.
"Many incumbents in difficult times such as these face daunting re-elect numbers, but not many incumbents who face these numbers find themselves on such relatively equal footing as their challengers.
"Susan Latvala receives a 39% favorability rating while one of her Republican primary challengers Tarpon Springs Mayor Beverly Billiris receives a 34% favorability rating. Businessman and former Dunedin mayor Bob Hackworth receives a 30% favorability rating."
"This is a tough environment for incumbents," said Hackworth of the findings in a race against Latvala, a Republican first elected in 2000.
Hackworth did rule out two races he has been mentioned as a possible contender. He won't run in the Florida House District 45 race, blaming the "politics" and "dysfunction" in a Republican-controlled Legislature for holding him back. State Rep. Tom Anderson, R-Dunedin, is term-limited out.
"I finally concluded the Florida Legislature was not the place where I could have the impact I desire to have," Hackworth said.
He also won't run for the at-large seat of County Commissioner Calvin Harris. "I'm not going to run against Calvin Harris. He's a Democrat," Hackworth said.
That leaves Latvala, whose primary challengers in the north Pinellas County district include Tarpon Springs Mayor Beverley Billiris and Carl Folkman of Crystal Beach. There's no Democrat yet.
-- David DeCamp, Times staff writer