Wednesday, May 23, 2018
Politics

March: Beckner-Frank tussle starting to boil

The Kevin Beckner vs. Pat Frank Democratic primary for Frank's Hillsborough clerk of court seat, likely to be the most interesting race on the local scene in 2016, is heating up.

Frank partisans are criticizing Beckner over a May 27 fundraiser at the Columbia Museum. Their argument: It's being hosted by a group consisting mostly of land-use attorneys.

Land-use attorneys don't normally have a lot to do with the clerk of court's office, but they do have a lot to do with county commissioners, who make rezoning and land use decisions. So why would they be raising money for Beckner for clerk of court? Because he'll be on the board of commissioners until November 2016.

"That is an age-old way to raise money," said Frank partisan and former Mayor Sandy Freedman. "You always go to your friends, your family, and then some people go to those people who appear in front of them.''

Beckner called the criticism "ludicrous."

"Those who have followed my work know that I've strongly opposed inappropriate development," including voting against the Bass Pro incentive deal and a Walmart in Carrollwood opposed by neighbors.

Beckner blasts back

Beckner has said he doesn't believe Frank's age should be an issue in the campaign — "As long as you're qualified, you're entitled to run for office," he said in an interview.

Frank is 85.

But he also raised the issue indirectly.

He said several Democrats have told him, "They are extraordinarily concerned about whom Gov. Scott would appoint to this office" if Frank were unable to complete her term.

He noted that in 2009, when Phyllis Busansky died while in office as county elections supervisor, then-Gov. Charlie Crist appointed Earl Lennard. Lennard, a Republican former county school superintendent, was known as non-ideological and acceptable to both parties.

"We were fortunate then," Beckner said, but Scott would be unlikely to make a bipartisan choice.

Going bipartisan

Tiger Bay Clubs, bipartisan political discussion groups that pride themselves on lobbing tough questions at public officials, are a significant source of political news in Florida.

But the Tampa club has long been smaller and less influential than its St. Pete counterpart, the Suncoast Tiger Bay Club.

One reason, at least in the view of some Republicans, is that the Tampa Club is too Democratic. Attendees usually are mostly Dems.

Rising legislative star Rep. Dana Young, R-Tampa, says she hasn't been interested in speaking at what she considered "a Democratic club."

"I know a lot of people that have been asked to speak from a more conservative viewpoint have been treated rudely by the attendees," she said.

The club's new president, Chris Ingram, a Republican with mavericky views, says he wants to change the image. He's recruiting new members, particularly Republicans. GOP State Attorney Mark Ober and Tax Collector Doug Belden just joined.

Young called that "excellent news."

The Tampa club meets on third Fridays at the Ferguson Law Center downtown.

William March can be reached at [email protected]

Comments
Trump violated the Constitution when he blocked his critics on Twitter, a federal judge rules

Trump violated the Constitution when he blocked his critics on Twitter, a federal judge rules

President Donald Trump’s decision to block his Twitter followers for their political views is a violation of the First Amendment, a federal judge ruled Wednesday, saying that Trump’s effort to silence his critics is not permissible under the U.S. Con...
Updated: 6 hours ago
All those city services that fuel Lightning fever? Team, not taxpayers, foot the bill

All those city services that fuel Lightning fever? Team, not taxpayers, foot the bill

TAMPA — All those public watch parties during the Tampa Bay Lightning’s postseason run? And how about the rally at Joe Chillura Courthouse Square Park with the big white Lightning logo spray-painted on the grass? You need police to prote...
Published: 05/23/18
Romano: A pathetic legacy for Florida’s all-or-nothing Democrats

Romano: A pathetic legacy for Florida’s all-or-nothing Democrats

Explain this to me: In the world of partisan politics, how is being an independent thinker a bad thing? When it comes to general elections, we seem to like rogues and mavericks. We want outsiders and swamp scrubbers. Folks appreciate a good finger-...
Published: 05/22/18
‘World’s most expensive Witch Hunt’: Trump lashes out at New York Times, Democrats

‘World’s most expensive Witch Hunt’: Trump lashes out at New York Times, Democrats

WASHINGTON - President Donald Trump lashed out Sunday at "the World’s most expensive Witch Hunt," trashing a new report in the New York Times that said an emissary representing the governments of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates offered help...
Published: 05/20/18
Obama’s education secretary: Let’s boycott school until gun laws change

Obama’s education secretary: Let’s boycott school until gun laws change

Former Education Secretary Arne Duncan pushed a radical idea on Twitter: Parents should pull their children out of school until elected officials pass stricter gun control laws.His tweet came hours after a shooting rampage at a Houston-area high scho...
Published: 05/20/18
China offers to buy more US products to reduce trade imbalance

China offers to buy more US products to reduce trade imbalance

WASHINGTON - China offered to boost its annual purchases of U.S. products by "at least $200 billion" Friday as two days of talks aimed at averting an open breach between the two countries ended in Washington, a top White House adviser said.Larry Kudl...
Published: 05/19/18
Hillsborough candidate falsified contract for fund-raising gospel concert, lawsuit says

Hillsborough candidate falsified contract for fund-raising gospel concert, lawsuit says

TAMPA — A concert organizer is accusing Hillsborough County Commission candidate Elvis Piggott of falsifying a contract and prompting the headline act to pull out of a gospel show.In a lawsuit filed in Hillsborough Circuit Court, Corey Curry claims h...
Published: 05/18/18
Gina Haspel confirmed as CIA chief despite scrutiny of her role in interrogation program

Gina Haspel confirmed as CIA chief despite scrutiny of her role in interrogation program

WASHINGTON - The Senate voted Thursday to confirm Gina Haspel as the next CIA director after several Democrats were persuaded to support her despite lingering concerns about her role in the brutal interrogation of suspected terrorists captured after ...
Published: 05/17/18
GOP pushes for speedy confirmation vote for CIA nominee

GOP pushes for speedy confirmation vote for CIA nominee

WASHINGTON — Republicans are pushing for a speedy confirmation vote as early as Thursday after the Senate intelligence committee endorsed President Donald Trump’s CIA nominee Gina Haspel to lead the spy agency. But opponents concerned about Haspel’s ...
Published: 05/16/18
Gina Haspel, Trump’s pick to lead CIA, wins support of Senate Intelligence Committee

Gina Haspel, Trump’s pick to lead CIA, wins support of Senate Intelligence Committee

WASHINGTON - The Senate Intelligence Committee moved Wednesday to recommend Gina Haspel for CIA director, setting up a floor vote that her opponents say will signal to the world whether the United States condemns or condones torture.The committee vot...
Published: 05/16/18