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The staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Mariano grabs Tallahassee support



Three-term incumbent Commissioner Jack Mariano has picked up financial support from Tallahassee political committees tied to Sen. Wilton Simpson, R-Trilby, and former Speaker of the House of the House Will Weatherford of Wesley Chapel.

In the monthly campaign finance reports due Jan. 11, Mariano reported raising $4,450 from 11 contributors including $1,000 from Simpson’s Jobs for Florida committee and $500 from Committee for a Stronger Florida which is associated with Weatherford.

“Jack has done a good job representing our community over the years and I am happy to support his re-election efforts,” Weatherford said in an e-mail to the Tampa Bay Times.

Other contributors include Florida ACRE, the political committee of the rural electric cooperatives, Withlacoochee River Electric Cooperative executive Ronnie L. Deese and trash hauler Republic Services of Florida.

In the District 5 race, Mariano has raised more than $32,000 for his re-election effort, a greater than 6-1 fund-raising advantage over challenger Bill Phillips, deputy mayor of New Port Richey. Newly announced candidate Chris Cooley isn’t required to file a report until February.

In the race for the District 1 seat being vacated by four-term Commissioner Ted Schrader, monthly reports show Debbie Wells received $3,000 in bundled contributions from three businesses tied to eye surgeon/developer Dr. James Gills.
 Rachel A. O’Connor raised $5,700 in December including contributions from businesses owed by funeral home director Tom Dobies, auto dealer Scott Fink and from the Morgan Auto Group.

Her contributors also included Mark Wickham, the president and CEO of Youth and Family Alternatives, and a Lutz business, Old Florida Palms, that lists its address as the home of Wickham’s predecessor – retired YFA chief George Magrill and his wife, Abbe. Both Magrill and Wickham serve on the YFA Foundation board with influential O’Connor supporter, Rich Beckesh whose Holiday-based businesses, Spring Engineering and Spring Development, were early contributors to her campaign.

“I think she’s got a good shot at becoming a county commissioner and I like her assertiveness,’’ Magrill said. “She’s exhibited an interest in children’s issues and that’s what motivates me to support candidates.’’

Both Wells and O’Connor lag behind fellow Republican Ron Oakley who received 33 contributions totaling $18,500 and also donated $3,300 out of his own pocket in the first month of his candidacy.

Schrader, who so far is unopposed in his bid for Pasco property appraiser, has raised $34,500 including $12,500 in December.

The primary election is Aug. 30. The complete reports are available at



[Last modified: Wednesday, January 13, 2016 9:28am]


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