Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Pasco party leaders say Obama's popularity will help local Democrats in tight races

NEW PORT RICHEY — Democrats opened up a field office for Barack Obama's campaign Wednesday, the latest touch in their plans to chip away at Republican dominance in Pasco County.

The office on Grand Boulevard is supposed to do more than help Obama's chances. Local Democrats want to tap into its influence for races farther down on the ballot.

But for all their new enthusiasm, new resources and new promises, Democrats began the November election push with deficiencies: less money, fewer voters and a smaller party

The Pasco Republican Party has raised $154,000, almost five times the Democrats. There are 7,500 more Republican voters. Republican candidate have enjoyed a 7-to-1 fundraising advantage.

And if turnout in Tuesday's primary was poor, it was really poor for Democrats. About 12 percent voted — compared to 18 percent of GOP voters — despite strong turnout being a calling card for the Democratic Party and Obama this year.

Adding to the difficulty, losing Democrat Jeff Deremer endorsed Republican Sheriff Bob White on Wednesday instead of the party's nominee, Kim Bogart. Deremer called Bogart a "pure politician."

"As the campaign went on, I almost think I learned some things from him," Deremer said of White. "I just felt like he was being truthful with the public."

Pasco Democrats are trying to unseat Republicans in two County Commission races, as well as contests for sheriff, school superintendent and supervisor of election. State Democrats have invested heavily in a state Senate race with Pasco at its heart.

But the Democrats' opportunities are ripe to win two races, said County Commissioner Michael Cox, a former chairman of the Pasco Democrats.

One is Bogart's bid to unseat White, who had the smallest margin of victory of any Republican in the primary, Cox said.

The other is in northwest Pasco's District 5 commission race between Commissioner Jack Mariano and Democrat Ginny Miller, a former New Port Richey City Council member. Voters countywide pick commissioners, but District 5 is the only one that's home to more Democrats than Republicans.

Bogart said he thinks fundraising will be an easier task heading into November, and he expects more party support.

"Everything from helping walk neighborhoods to stuffing mailers, (and) I feel confident that there will be some financial contributions open up as well," Bogart said.

The case for other Democrats is cloudier. For example, Democrat Fred Taylor has yet to win over Cox in Taylor's bid to replace state Sen. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey.

"The reality is that Fasano is doing a good job from the standpoint of issues that affect the community — that's what it comes down to," Cox said.

Pasco Democratic Party chairwoman Alison Morano described a rosier scenario. She said the county party left it up to candidates to push voters. Plus, there were fewer Democratic primaries and no major national or state contests.

"You cannot discount Obama's ability to turn out. We're sitting here in Denver because he's turned them out," said Morano, a delegate at the national convention in Denver.

To be sure, Republicans are recovering from a divisive primary.

County Republican chairman Bill Bunting acknowledged the Mariano-Miller race will be tough. Another race tops his priority list: school superintendent, in which Republican incumbent Heather Fiorentino has raised less money than Democrat Stephen Donaldson.

But Bunting said White, known as the county's biggest fund-raiser, should be fine.

While he discounts the effects Democrats could have, Bunting said he will begin working to unify the local party after next week's national convention.

"We have to be concerned," said Bunting, who staved off his own bitter leadership fight. "We have to have a united party."

Times staff writer Molly Moorhead contributed to this report. David DeCamp can be reached at or (800) 333-7505, ext. 6232.

Pasco party leaders say Obama's popularity will help local Democrats in tight races 08/27/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, September 2, 2008 2:00pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Fire on neighbor's porch leads to charges against Holiday man


    HOLIDAY — A Holiday man was arrested Wednesday after authorities say he torched the front porch of his neighbor, who he insisted was holding his daughter hostage.

    Dan Fry, 63, of Holiday was arrested Wednesday on a charge of first-degree arson. [Photo courtesy of Pasco Sheriff's Office]
  2. Port Richey man solicited sex from 13-year-old, Pasco authorities say


    PORT RICHEY — A Port Richey man was arrested Wednesday after Pasco County authorities say he solicited sex from a 13-year-old boy on the gay male dating app Grindr.

    Shawn Daly, 43, of Port Richey was charged with solicitation for sexual conduct with a child over a computer. [Photo courtesy of Pasco Sheriff's Office]
  3. On the Camino de Santiago, Day 16: An evening of wine and song transcends all language barriers for these travelers


    Day 16: Castrojeriz to Villarmentero de Campos: 35 km, 10.5 hours. Total for Days 1-16 = 360 km (224 miles)

  4. Unexpected weak quarter at MarineMax slashes boating retailer shares by 20 percent


    CLEARWATER — Just then you thought it was safe to go back into the water, a boating business leader issued a small craft warning.

    Bill McGill Jr., CEO of Clearwater's MarineMax, the country's biggest recreational boat retailer. [Courtesy of MarineMax]
  5. Dunedin's negotiations with Blue Jays continue

    Local Government

    DUNEDIN — Dunedin officials are still in the process of negotiating a license agreement with the Toronto Blue Jays.

    A rendering by Populous, a global architecture firm specializing in sports facility development, shows the entrance of an upgraded Florida Auto Exchange Stadium shows a Toronto Blue Jays team store. If the $81 million renovation plans between the city and team go through, the store would be open year-round.Credit:  Populous