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Pinellas-Pasco defender finally has challenger

Published Sep. 16, 2005

For the first time since 1968, voters in Pinellas and Pasco counties will choose a public defender.

Robert Jagger has held the job in Pinellas County since 1961 and in Pasco County since 1963. He is the only public defender either county has had and is believed to be the longest-serving in the nation.

Now a former assistant, Robert Dillinger, is challenging him.

Jagger, who faced opposition only in 1968, says he has worked hard to run an efficient office and has staffed it with skilled attorneys.

But Dillinger, a St. Petersburg defense attorney, says Jagger pays high salaries to some non-attorneys in the office, and that more than three decades in one elective office is simply too much.

The Republicans will face each other in the Sept. 3 primary election. No Democrats entered the race.

In another race in the Pinellas-Pasco judicial circuit, State Attorney Bernie McCabe was re-elected without opposition.