Another candidates forum came and went Tuesday night - this one a well-attended affair put on by the St. Petersburg NAACP - and one candidate was again conspicuously absent: Brian Hawley.
Hawley is the Largo Middle School teacher who some expected to be (and some say still may be) a strong contender against long-time incumbent Linda Lerner. But with 33 days until election day, he has attended none of the candidate forums (though he did make it to the St. Petersburg Times editorial board interview). And his latest campaign finance report shows that beyond a $2,000 loan to himself (most of which was used to pay the $1,480 registration fee), he has raised zero dollars from zero contributors.
In an email to The Gradebook last night, Hawley - whose first child was born last week - said he knew going into the race that campaigning would be limited.
He wrote: "The extent of my campaigning will be limited to passing out business cards, handing out yard signs in August, contacting neighborhood papers (which I have done), having colleagues hold signs on busy streets close to election day and the televised forum on the 3rd." (That would be the Aug. 3 forum co-sponsored by the Pinellas County Council of PTAs, the Pinellas Education Foundation, the St. Petersburg Times, WPDS-Channel 14 and the League of Women Voters.)
"I knew going into this that 'campaigning' was going to be limited - but even if I could dedicate loads of resources and time to campaigning (like Jackson) it still might have little impact."
"The forum meetings are another story. Some I wish I could have (and planned on) attending (like the NAACP), but others, because of the non partisan nature of the office, I have avoided."
"The non-partisan issue is why seeking endorsements from political/partisan groups has not been a priority. If I do win, I do not wish to be affiliated with any group or interest."
"I do want all those interested to understand my position on things, and (thanks in most part to you) many of them have been posted in the media. I have filled out questionairres for the groups that have asked, and spoken to the public who have contacted me. Hopefully the forum and future articles will fill in any gaps people might have."
"I hope it will be enough!"
UPDATE at 10:41 a.m.: In a phone interview, Hawley said his time is also limited by a full-time job this summer (not school related). He said he is still a serious candidate and has a shot despite limited money and time to campaign.
"Less of it comes down to campaigning and more of it comes down to the general sentiment of the population, and the peformance of the incumbent ... and the general perspective of the person running," he said. "To say just because you don't see someone you're not going to vote for them doesn't make much sense if you know what their positions are and what their background is."