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EMILY's List packs in cash for ex-mayor

Notes from the campaign trail. . .

Remember all the teeth-gnashing over EMILY's List?

Pat Frank and Phyllis Busansky, candidates for the 11th Congressional District seat, begged the influential Washington, D.C., political action committee to stay out of the local race to replace Rep. Sam Gibbons until after a victor emerges from the anticipated Democratic runoff in October.

But EMILY's List prevailed and tossed its weight behind former Mayor Sandy Freedman.

It's easy to see why the others were nervous.

As of late Tuesday, EMILY's List had sent the Freedman campaign $46,982 _ almost a quarter of the Freedman campaign's total raised to date _ from contributors who funnel money to Democratic women candidates for governor and Congress who support abortion rights.

Supporters are as diverse as a New York City artist, a Little Rock, Ark., housewife and a Maryland lawyer. Even comedian Paula Poundstone, who has never met Freedman, has added her support.

The stand-up comic sent in a check for $250.

Freedman was traveling Tuesday, but spokesman Steve LaBour says he, for one, is a fan. "Absolutely. Especially now."

PRESCIENT BUT NOT PLEASED: Paul Hogan reported it first, but the former managing editor of the Tampa Tribune still was mighty surprised Sunday when the newspaper came out with an early endorsement for congressional candidate Phyllis Busansky.

"It's unprecedented," he growled.

Hogan, who handicapped the congressional race in the June issue of the St. Petersburg-based Maddux Report, reported that Jack Butcher, "the Tribune's openly honest but inexperienced publisher," announced at a power breakfast in March that Busansky would get the endorsement if the decision had been made that day.

Busansky was delighted with the early endorsement, but Hogan was miffed.

"The lady has played them like a virtuoso and continues to play them," he said. "I think the Tribune has proven it has been used by this early endorsement. They belittle her with this early endorsement, obviously done to boost what they consider to be a sagging campaign."

Busansky, on the run between campaign appearances late Tuesday, said she felt far from belittled. "I'm honored," she said.