Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Write-in candidate closes Republican primary in District 36 state House race

PORT RICHEY — When Mike Fasano campaigns for a return to the state House this year, his primary election will be limited to Republican voters.

That's because a Port Richey man entered the race this week as a write-in candidate.

The latest entrant, 66-year-old Joseph Verola, lives next door to Fasano's chief rival, Pasco Republican Party vice chairman Jim Mathieu.

Verola was clear about his intentions. "My initial interest was to close the Republican primary for James Mathieu," he said. "I thought he'd be the best Republican for the party."

Before Verola entered the campaign, only Republicans had filed for the seat. State law allows all voters to cast ballots in a primary if the race only includes candidates from a single party. But if the primary winner will face opposition in the general election, the primary is closed to voters registered with that party.

Verola is not registered with any party, though he called himself a Democrat. He plans to talk with the local Democratic Party about running under that banner. Either way, the District 36 primary will be limited to the district's 35,000 Republican voters, or about 35 percent of the electorate.

Write-in candidates' names don't appear on the ballot and they have little to no chance of winning. But election officials and courts have said they count as "opposition." Critics blast the maneuver as a politician-protecting loophole, but candidates from both parties use the tactic each election cycle.

The latest candidacy was born when Mathieu and his neighbor where chatting about the race. Mathieu said he hoped a write-in or Democrat would run to close the primary.

"I said, 'Jim, you know what, I'd be happy to do it,' " Verola recalled. "So it was my idea."

Said Mathieu: "I'm not too worried about anybody accusing me of gaming the system. I'm running against someone that's termed out twice and doesn't live here."

Mathieu is referring to Fasano's Heritage Lake home, about a mile outside of the West Pasco district's boundary. Fasano has a lease for a townhome in the Shallow Creek neighborhood beginning in June and plans to purchase a home in the district if elected.

Fasano had to leave the House in 2002 because of term limits and he cannot run for re-election to the Senate this year. But the state Constitution does not prevent the 18-year legislator from making a return trip to the House.

Fasano said he had no problem with Verola's candidacy, saying he has a right to enter the race.

"I've run in Republican primaries before," Fasano said. "We do nothing different than it would be in a general election — meeting as many voters as possible and asking them for their vote."

Besides Mathieu and Fasano, the other Republican candidate is Michael Kennedy of Hudson.

Lee Logan can be reached at or (727) 869-6236.

Write-in candidate closes Republican primary in District 36 state House race 04/19/12 [Last modified: Thursday, April 19, 2012 8:35pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Video: Rays Souza on that oh-so-bad dive, and reaction from Twins fans


    What was Rays RF Steven Souza Jr. thinking when he made that oh-so-bad dive for a ball in the seventh inning Friday? Well, we'll let him tell you ...

  2. What was Rays RF Steven Souza Jr. thinking on that comically bad dive?


    What could Rays RF Steven Souza Jr. been thinking in the seventh inning Friday when he dove for a ball and came up yards short?

    Actually, he insisted after all the laughing, teasing and standing ovation from the Twins fans was done, it was a matter of self-preservation.

  3. Judge tosses life sentences for D.C. sniper Lee Boyd Malvo


    McLEAN, Va. — A federal judge on Friday tossed out two life sentences for one of Virginia's most notorious criminals, sniper Lee Boyd Malvo, and ordered Virginia courts to hold new sentencing hearings.

    A federal judge has tossed out two life sentences for D.C. sniper shooter Lee Boyd Malvo. [Associated Press, 2004]
  4. Zbigniew Brzezinski, President Carter's national security adviser, dies


    Zbigniew Brzezinski, the hawkish strategic theorist who was national security adviser to President Jimmy Carter in the tumultuous years of the Iran hostage crisis and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in the late 1970s, died on Friday at a hospital in Virginia. He was 89.

    Zbigniew Brzezinski, former national security adviser to President Jimmy Carter, participates in Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on Capitol Hill on March 5, 2009, in Washington, D.C. [Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images]
  5. USF eliminated by UCF in AAC baseball; Florida, FSU, Miami win


    CLEARWATER — Roughly 16 hours after a ninth-inning collapse against East Carolina in the American Athletic Conference's double-elimination baseball tournament, USF returned to Spectrum Field presumably set for a reboot.

    It simply got booted instead.

    ’NOLES win: Tyler Holton gets a hug from Drew Carlton after his strong eight innings help Florida State beat Louisville.