Les Miller helps Pat Frank court black voters with new radio ad
TAMPA — Hillsborough County Commissioner Les Miller cut a radio ad over the weekend for Clerk of the Circuit Court and fellow Democrat Pat Frank to boost the three-term incumbent’s re-election bid.
It’s a notable endorsement because Frank is running against one of Miller’s colleagues on the commission, Kevin Beckner, in the Aug. 30 primary.
The ad will run on WTMP, a Tampa radio station with a predominately African American audience. Miller is chairman of the county commission, where he’s the only black elected official.
“Pat Frank has always had the courage to take on the tough fights for equality, justice and fairness,” Miller said in the ad. “Pat Frank has spent a lifetime on the front-lines fighting for us. Pat Frank delivers. She's always delivered. And that's why I'm standing with her.”
Miller told the Tampa Bay Times that his endorsement of Frank was not to say Beckner wouldn’t be a solid clerk for the county.
But he added: “Why would we want to change someone who has done a great job?”
Miller also said that many Democrats here are disappointed with the campaign Beckner has run and his decision to paint Frank as an absentee clerk. It was particularly insensitive, he said, to make that criticism just days after her daughter, Stacy Frank, died from cancer.
Beckner has claimed Frank’s schedule and key access show she comes to work late and often leaves early. Her work calendar shows hair appointments and other personal affairs, he noted, but is often blank or includes no public business. He launched a website, parttimepat.com that includes a cartoon figure of Frank with a tropical drink in a lawn chair.
“Some of them are really surprised the way Kevin has run the campaign, the characters he’s had printed of her, some people said that was too much,” Miller said. “That didn't go over well with a lot of people. It has surprised a lot of people that Kevin would even do that.”
As for the race to fill Beckner’s open commission seat, Miller said he doesn’t plan to make an endorsement in the four-way Democratic primary. But he said it’s critical that a Democrat holds the seat, to prevent Republicans from gaining an even more lopsided 6-1 majority.
“I think that there’s some stronger candidates than others and I think it’s going to be a good primary,” Miller said. “I’m waiting to see who it is and if I can endorse (in the general).”