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Hernando Commissioner Stabins plans to seek re-election, not run for Congress in New York

BROOKSVILLE — Jeff Stabins says that after testing the water on a possible run for Congress in New York, he's decided that being a Hernando County commissioner isn't so bad after all.

After announcing previously that he would resign from the commission by next spring, Stabins said Wednesday he was filing again to run for re-election to his District 1 commission seat in 2012.

The decision came amid a public push for Stabins to resign and word that the Republican Party leadership Hernando was also going to seek his ouster.

"The Republican powers that be — (party chairman) Blaise Ingoglia and the Hogans — are morally corrupt. They have decided they aren't content to control 40 percent of the Hernando County Commission with (Chairman Jim) Adkins and (Commissioner Wayne) Dukes. They want to control the majority,'' Stabins said.

He said the core of the party had called an emergency meeting and that they wanted him to resign sooner than he intended, but now he has no desire to leave.

"I've fought these bastards for 21 years, and I'm going to fight them for one more term,'' he said. "I'll be damned if I let another Adkins or Dukes replace me on that board. The right-wing ideologues are destroying this country.''

The move came just two weeks after Stabins announced he would resign before his term ended and that he was looking at the possibility of a run for Congress in New York's 23rd District, where he recently purchased a summer home.

"I've spent about half the summer in my home in what I'd call a working vacation,'' Stabins said. "I've tested the water and it was too cold. I've been away for a quarter century, and I don't think now is the right time to run'' for Congress.

But Stabins said he would not count out a future run in New York when he is done in Hernando County.

"The dream remains,'' he said.

Earlier in the year, Stabins announced he would drop plans to seek a third term on the commission because he was tired of "tilting at windmills.''

"In spring, I was very burned out, disgusted, disappointed with my inability to influence my Republican colleagues on the board. Some of that has changed the last few months,'' he said. "It leaves me a little bit of hope for the future.''

On Wednesday afternoon, Stabins faxed a copy of his prequalification paperwork to the office of Supervisor of Elections Annie Williams. Community relations coordinator Elizabeth Townsend confirmed receiving the fax and noted that official prequalifying won't happen until Stabins files original paperwork with his signature.

In addition to seeking his own re-election, Stabins said he would actively work to find someone to run against Adkins, who is also up for re-election in 2012.

"Adkins must go,'' he said.

Ingoglia, the Hernando Republican chairman, did not return calls seeking comment on Stabins. Tom Hogan Sr. and his wife, Mary Ann, are longtime Republican power brokers in the county.

Stabins has been blasted by several residents in his district for spending the summer in New York rather than fulfilling his obligations as a commissioner. He has traveled back to Florida for commission meetings.

When asked if he was now planning to return to Florida, he said, "Of course, I'm on my way back to Florida. I live in Florida.

"I have a house in New York like a lot of Floridians. I love it, but I'm not crazy about the summers in Florida, and I'm not crazy about the winters in New York.''

The criticisms from residents come on the heels of a series of moves by Stabins that had his colleagues and the community questioning his motivations. He upset several county employees by trying to make a DVD about David Hamilton's tenure as county administrator.

He drew questions and concerns for sending an e-mail to Adkins when Stabins missed a board workshop. The e-mail led people to believe that Stabins might have harmed himself. Stabins later apologized.

At recent board meetings, Stabins has been sharp with his responses to residents and his critics. He said he plans to continue to be blunt when he needs to be.

"People think I'm giving them hell,'' he said. "I'm not giving them hell. I'm giving them the truth, and they think it's hell.''

When asked about Stabins on Wednesday, Adkins said the continuing controversy was distracting from the important county business before the commission and noted that Stabins needed to "make up his mind'' on what he wants to do.

Stabins said that he has decided.

"Now it's time to get back to work, balance the budget, maintain the services for our customers and get rid of the right-wing ideologues," he said. "Wipe them off the map.''

Barbara Behrendt can be reached at behrendt@sptimes.com or (352) 848-1434.

Hernando Commissioner Stabins plans to seek re-election, not run for Congress in New York 09/07/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, September 7, 2011 8:03pm]
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