A soccer mom and a slew of attorneys are among the candidates from which Pasco County voters will be choosing this fall in races for County Commission, School Board, judgeships, state House and Senate and Congress.
Candidates had until noon Friday to qualify for the primary on Sept. 10 and the general election Nov. 5.
Some incumbents face no opponents and will glide right back into office. The School Board and circuit judge races are nonpartisan, with no primaries, so the September race is considered their general election.
In the race for County Commission, two incumbents are up for re-election.
Commissioner Pat Mulieri will have an opponent in the general election Nov. 5. Mulieri, a Republican in office since 1994, at one point had three challengers for the District 2 seat in central Pasco.
Candidates run in the district where they live but are elected countywide.
Two of her opponents dropped out, but Democrat Amye Cox, a Land O'Lakes soccer mom who plans to campaign for more practice fields for youth sports, qualified Friday to run. She and Mulieri will face each other in the general election.
In District 4, Commissioner Steve Simon, a first-term Democrat, picked up an opponent late in the game. Last week, former commissioner and fellow Democrat David "Hap" Clark surprised the party leadership by casting his name into the race.
Clark said he wanted another shot at public service after eight years as a county commissioner. Clark gave up his seat two years ago by running, unsuccessfully, in a volatile campaign against Tax Collector Mike Olson, who beat him by a 3-1 ratio.
Because a Republican candidate has not filed, the race will be open to all voters and decided in the September primary.
Democratic leaders say they think Simon has done a great job on the pressing issues of growth and school impact fees. But Clark, who worked as a teacher and administrator in Pasco schools before his terms as commissioner, said he knows the county's issues and problems better than Simon. Simon welcomes a debate.
There are four candidates in the race for state Senate District 11, which runs from northern Pinellas County up the west sides of Pasco and Hernando counties and into a small portion of southern Citrus County.
Republican state Rep. Mike Fasano of New Port Richey will face off with Republican Dunedin City Commissioner Janet Henderson in the primary. Former Pasco Sheriff Lee Cannon will run against retired autoworker and political newcomer Joseph "Steve" Mattingly in the Democratic primary. The winner of each primary will advance to the general election.
All the candidates recognize education as an important issue, but Fasano trumpets the money the state already has pumped into schools. The other candidates argue that it's not enough, with Cannon pointing out that the spending has not kept up with inflation.
In Senate District 10 race, which includes Zephyrhills, Sen. Tom Lee (R-Brandon) has no opponent. Lee, who has been called the second most powerful man in the Senate, is in line to become the Senate president within two years.
In Senate District 12, which takes up a large swath of central Pasco and its hot growth spots, Sen. Victor Crist, R-Tampa, seeks re-election. Democrat Allison McInnis-Gimbert filed to run on Thursday, but state records Friday afternoon did not list the candidacy as qualified. Her status is unclear.
State House District 44, which includes a section of north-central Pasco County, lost one announced candidate.
Republican challenger William Crawford of Ridge Manor announced in May he would run against incumbent David Russell of Brooksville, but dropped out. Crawford explained that he had studied Russell's background more closely and determined Russell, who is seeking a third term, is a "great and well qualified candidate."
"There is no reason to run against him at this time," Crawford said.
Russell, chairman of the House Transportation Committee, said he is glad to sit out the primary season, watching to see the Democrats battle for the right to face him in November.
"Certainly I'll be out there working," Russell said. "Whoever wins that primary election had better be taking their vitamins."
Democrats in the District 44 race are retired U.S. Marine Corps Maj. Bruce Donovan of Spring Hill and corrections supervisor Gregory Williams of Ridge Manor, who challenged Russell two years ago. Also in the race is Libertarian candidate Edward Pittman of New Port Richey, which is not part of the district.
The race to fill Fasano's seat is crowded. House District 45 has four candidates.
Former aide to state Rep. Heather Fiorentino, John Legg, a New Port Richey Republican, will face Dunedin Mayor Tom Anderson in the GOP primary.
Legg is Fasano's chosen replacement. Anderson is getting some help running his campaign from outgoing term-limited Republican Sen. Jack Latvala, who has accused Fasano of not being "moderate" enough.
The winner of the primary will face two opponents in November: Democrat Kevin Jensen, the former spokesman of Palm Harbor Fire Rescue; and Libertarian candidate and Hudson computer technician John Doherty.
The qualification for Green party candidate Michael Ronald Henkel was unclear, but as of Friday afternoon, he was not listed as qualified.
In House District 46, incumbent Fiorentino (R-New Port Richey) will face two opponents in the November general election. New Port Richey Democrat Mike Webb qualified to run against her on Friday. Her other challenger is New Port Richey Libertarian Jon Kueny.
In House District 61, which includes parts of New Tampa, east and south-central Pasco County, incumbent Republican Rep. Ken Littlefied will face Democrat Pat Burke and Libertarian Joseph Frank Preta Jr. in November.
For the first time, School Board races will be non-partisan. That means there will be no primaries, and so the general election will be held in September.
Three seats on the board are up for election. However, board members Jean Larkin and Kathleen Wolf have no competition, and so are assured of re-election.
Cathi Martin, elected in 1998, faces Len Trubia of New Port Richey for the District 3 seat. Martin is next in line to be chairwoman. Her goals include improving parental involvement in the schools, developing more vocational programs and alternative placements for disruptive students.
Trubia ran for the board once before, losing the Republican primary in 1998. He is the president of Coldwell Banker Action Reality. Trubia has a platform similar to the one he used last time. He pledges to scrutinize the budget and pay teachers more. He wants a return to the old "Richey Fundamental" type of schools, and says current board members don't ask enough tough questions.
Wolf, serving her fourth term representing District 5, automatically won re-election Friday when Bayonet Point resident Jack Mariano failed to file his qualifying papers on time. Mariano said he didn't know he had to qualify, figuring the 2,500 petition signatures he collected guaranteed him a spot on the ballot.
Three circuit judges who sit in New Port Richey automatically won re-election to six-year terms by virtue of not drawing challengers. They are W. Lowell Bray Jr., Stanley R. Mills and Daniel Diskey.
Three circuit judgeships are up for grabs this year in Pasco. In one race, a sitting judge faces his first challenge in 25 years on the bench. The other two races developed after the retirements of Joseph G. Donahey Jr. and Maynard Swanson.
Wayne Cobb, a circuit judge in Dade City since his appointment 1977, is opposed by Chris Yeazell, an assistant public defender in Clearwater. Cobb has never stood for election.
Three lawyers are vying for Swanson's Dade City seat: Linda Babb, a 13-year prosecutor; George H. Brown, a Pinellas civil lawyer; and Sarah Chaves, a family law attorney in St. Petersburg. Brown and Chaves are both making their second run for a circuit judgeship.
In west Pasco, two private attorneys are running for Donahey's seat. Declan Mansfield is a former prosecutor who now has a criminal defense and personal injury practice in New Port Richey. John Renke III is a New Port Richey civil attorney and the son of a former Republican state representative.
The judicial races are circuitwide, meaning the winners will be decided by voters in both Pasco and Pinellas counties.
In races for the U.S. House of Representatives, District 5 will see state Republican Sen. Ginny Brown-Waite of Brooksville facing Republican Don Gessner in the primary.
The winner will run in the general election against incumbent U.S. Rep. Karen Thurman, a Democrat, and two Reform Party activists, Jack Gargan and Brian Moore, running without party affiliation.
In U.S. House District 9, U.S. Rep. Michael Bilirakis, a Republican, will run for re-election against New Port Richey Democrat Chuck Kalogianis in the general election in November.
_ Staff writers Cary Davis, Jeffrey S. Solochek, and Kent Fischer contributed to this report.
+ Elected without opposition
++ Winner of primary wins seat
(List excludes write-ins)
Ginny Brown-Waite (R)
Don Gessner (R)
Karen Thurman (D)
Jack Gargan (NP)
Brian Moore (NP)
Michael Bilirakis (R)
Chuck Kalogianis (D)
Tom Lee (R)+
Lee Cannon (D)
Steve Mattingly (D)
Mike Fasano (R)
Janet Henderson (R)
Victor Crist (R)
(status of possible opponent unclear)
Bruce Donovan (D)
Gregory Williams (D)
Edward Pittman (LIB)
Tom Anderson (R)
John Legg (R)
Kevin Jensen (D)
John Doherty (LIB)
Heather Fiorentino (R)
Mike Webb (D)
Jon Kueny (LIB)
Patricia Burke (D)
Ken Littlefield (R)
Joseph Preta Jr. (LIB)
Pat Mulieri (R)
Amye Cox (D)
Steve Simon (D)
David Clark (D)
W. Lowell Bray Jr.+
John Renke III