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Philanthropist Morsani crosses party line, gives support to Murphy



Along with the usual menu of endorsements, House candidate Amanda Murphy now counts millionaire philanthropist Frank Morsani as a supporter.

Murphy, a Democrat, picked up Morsani’s backing after endorsements from the Florida Fraternal Order of Police and Pasco County Professional Firefighters, groups usually counted as reliable Democratic supporters.

The Morsani endorsement stands out because he’s a Republican. Murphy’s a Democrat aiming to replace Mike Fasano in the House District 36 race in west Pasco.

Murphy said she’s known Morsani for more than 10 years from her job as an investment advisor at Raymond James. She said she spoke with him when considering a run for office.

“I respect his opinion. He’s a brilliant man,” she said. “We’ve talked about lots of different issues going on in the state.”

Morsani, 82, is a former president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

He built an empire of auto dealerships and over the years has donated millions to the University of South Florida, the University of Tampa and the Straz Center for the Performing Arts. He’s lived in the Tampa Bay area since 1970.

“I’ve known her for a long time and I think she deserves the opportunity,” Morsani said. “I think she’s the best qualified and probably has more business acumen than (Bill) Gunter.”

Morsani said he’s considers himself a Republican but has supported candidates from both parties over the years.

“I try to give my money to the people who I think are deserving and good people, regardless of their political party,” he said.

Also this week, Democrat Betty Castor, a former state education commissioner and president of the University of South Florida, announced her support for Murphy.

[Last modified: Thursday, September 26, 2013 2:26pm]


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