Seeing an opportunity, Peter Nehr re-enters Pinellas commission race
The race for the District 4 County Commission seat is beginning to feel like a weird magic act, where people appear on stage and then disappear just as quickly.
More than a year ago, former State Rep. Peter Nehr filed to run for the North Pinellas commission seat after losing his re-election bid to Democrat Carl Zimmerman. A few months later, he dropped out of the race, declining to say why.
But now Nehr is back in. In the intervening months, Republican Commissioner Susan Latvala, who has represented the district for over a decade, decided to run and then backed out. Then former Republican Commissioner Neil Brickfield filed to run and later withdrew. And last week the news came that Brian Aungst Jr., son of the former Clearwater mayor, and long-rumored to be a likely candidate, would not run.
There are currently nine candidates in the race for the open District 4 seat, but many of them have never been on a ballot before will have to work hard to make their names known. Nehr clearly saw an opening.
"I am running for this important position because I believe my years of experience as a former City Commissioner and a State Representative will allow me to successfully continue the good work of Commissioner Susan Latvala in representing the constituents of District #4 and all the citizens of Pinellas County," he wrote in an email on Monday.
Well-known in North Pinellas, Nehr could still face a tough election. In 2012, he made national news for sending his friends pictures of himself shirtless - intended, he said, to show them how much weight he'd lost while struggling with diabetes. Later, the Tampa Bay Times found that after Nehr lost his bid for a fourth term in House District 65, he used campaign funds to pay his live-in girlfriend, an acupuncturist, $22,000 for what he said was, "consulting, editing and fundraising" work.