Pat Mulieri won't step down from her District 2 County Commission seat until 2014, but the political wrangling to replace her is already under way.
Two Republicans, Mike Moore and Bob Robertson, have filed campaign papers, ensuring a primary run next July, and now one of the candidates says he's already picked up a key endorsement.
Moore, 42, a business broker, was endorsed last week by Pasco Sheriff Chris Nocco.
"Mike has a strong business background and understands (that) economic growth starts with strong public safety," the sheriff said in a statement released by Moore's campaign.
Moore called Nocco's support "a major endorsement."
The two go back about two years, after Nocco was appointed by the governor to succeed retiring Sheriff Bob White. Then in 2012 their paths crossed again when Nocco addressed the Wesley Chapel Republican Club during a campaign stop. Moore is the club's president and said he personally backed the sheriff.
So is Nocco now returning the favor?
No, says Moore.
"He knows me and he understands that I will work together with him, and also with other law enforcement departments, because I support law enforcement," Moore said. "Law enforcement is a big part of what happens in this county."