Former Democratic sheriff's candidate Don Young confirmed Monday that he will cross party lines to support the Republican candidate, Bill Rowan, in the Nov. 3 general election.
And, in a symmetrical political defection, former Republican sheriff's candidate Bill Kontyko said Monday he will endorse the Democratic candidate, Lee Cannon.
Rowan is expected to flex the additional political muscle at a rally scheduled for 10 a.m. today, on the steps of the Sheriff's Office at 8700 Citizens Drive in New Port Richey.
Rowan, who unseated his former boss, Sheriff Jim Gillum, by winning 70 percent of the vote last week in the Republican runoff, declared his campaign from those same steps in February. Young is expected to attend.
Rowan's campaign assistant, Robert Burns, said the bipartisan rally would show "a joining of beliefs and ideas that a drastic change is needed in the way things are run at the Sheriff's Office."
Burns said another former Democratic sheriff's candidate, Cindy Kuhn, also has pledged support for Rowan. Kuhn could not be reached for comment Monday, nor could Rowan.
Also expected to attend the Rowan rally today is former Republican sheriff's candidate Dean Hatcher, who has previously made known his support for Rowan.
Young said Monday that he has known Rowan for 17 years. "I've worked beside him, and I know him to be an honest, decent man and that's my choice."
"My interest is not politics," Young said. "My interest is seeing a change for the better in the Sheriff's Office. I believe Bill Rowan can do that."
Young, who in the final days of his campaign released a mailer that Cannon described as mudslinging, said, "The misgivings I have about Mr. Cannon are still there. They haven't been resolved and they're a real issue."
Young also said he had no intention of working at the Sheriff's Office. He said he plans to return to his job as a trooper with the highway patrol.
Kontyko said he was unsure if he would accept a job at the Sheriff's Office He said he was supporting Cannon because the former Tampa police officer and Gillum departmental attorney has the best credentials.
Kontyko said his recommendation of Rowan in the Republican runoff wasn't a contradiction:
"You get the two best candidates from each party so that the voters can choose from the best."
Cannon said Monday that he didn't think Young's crossover would hurt him.
Endorsements from other candidates "don't necessarily sway a lot of votes," Cannon said. "Their closest workers and volunteers will change, but many others won't. It's more of a P.R. situation."