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Ex-GOP official will back Democrat

In the latest political defection in the Pasco sheriff's race, a West Pasco Republican has resigned two party posts in order to support the Democratic sheriff's candidate, Lee Cannon.

Bob Loeffler, a longtime Republican official and Pasco sheriff's employee, said the Republican sheriff's candidate, Bill Rowan, "has never evidenced an iota of interest in the Republican Party except at election time."

"There is no other choice than to give moral, physical and financial support to Lee Cannon," Loeffler wrote to Roland Quinn, the chairman of the Republican Party of Pasco County, in an Oct. 2 letter.

In the letter, Loeffler resigned his membership on the executive committee and his chairmanship of the ethics committee. Loeffler said he will maintain his Republican voter's registration.

Rowan has fared better with at least one other registered Republican _ Michael Fasano.

In an Oct. 6 letter to fellow members of the West Pasco Republican Club, Fasano described Rowan as "honest, professional and experienced," and urged members to support him over Cannon.

"I'm sure you will all agree with me that the last thing we need is a sheriff that's a lawyer. We have enough of them in Tallahassee and Washington," Fasano wrote. Fasano also told his fellow Republicans that they shared a responsibility "to make certain that our sheriff's department continues to be second to none."

Fasano did not sound such partisan notes a few weeks ago, after his defeat in the Republican primary for the House District 46 seat. Fasano said his opponent, Ken Altman, was untrustworthy, and he refused to back him.

Fasano resigned his Republican state committeeman's seat early, saying he couldn't support all his party's candidates. He even met with the Democratic incumbent for District 46, Phil Mishkin.

The sheriff's race already has seen several political crossovers. Much of the race has focused on personalities rather than issues, with party participation apparently having a subordinate role.

After his defeat in the Democratic runoff, state trooper Don Young announced he would support Rowan. Another defeated Democratic candidate, Cindy Kuhn, also is supporting Rowan.

Bill Kontyko, an unsuccessful candidate in the Republican primary, recently announced his support for Cannon.