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Jamie Bennett hires Derek Newton to guide his candidacy for St. Petersburg mayor

ST. PETERSBURG — More than a week after firing his campaign manager, City Council member Jamie Bennett announced a reorganization of his mayoral campaign Monday and reaffirmed his commitment to the race.

His rationale?

The other candidates are just not good enough.

"As the most experienced mayoral candidate and the only candidate who is currently responsible for leading this great city, it would be irresponsible to concede our future to untested or less-informed aspirants," Bennett wrote in a statement.

Bennett, an eight-year council member, has hired Derek Newton, a Miami-based political consultant, to run his campaign. Newton, 36, grew up in Seminole and is preparing to move back to Pinellas County.

"I'm delighted to have Derek's experience and ability on my campaign," Bennett said. "Now that we're putting together a professional team, I'm excited to continue working for the citizens of this great city and making my case about why I'm the best choice to be our next mayor."

Bennett fired his first campaign manager, Peter Schorsch, after Schorsch passed out Bennett's tickets to the city's Tampa Bay Rays suite in a campaign folder that also included a request for a contribution. Bennett was in the car with him when he left the tickets for a neighborhood association president, but said he didn't realize how they were packaged.

Schorsch, a professional poker player with a history of arrests and election law violations, fired back with a string of allegations, including that Bennett failed to report campaign expenses and tried to sabotage other candidates.

Cristina Silva can be reached at (727) 893-8846 or csilva@sptimes.com.

Jamie Bennett hires Derek Newton to guide his candidacy for St. Petersburg mayor 05/18/09 [Last modified: Thursday, July 23, 2009 4:46pm]
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