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David Straz won’t be at the first Tampa mayoral forum

JAMES BORCHUCK  |  Times
David Straz Jr. announced that he is throwing his hat in the ring and running for mayor of Tampa in next years election.
JAMES BORCHUCK | Times David Straz Jr. announced that he is throwing his hat in the ring and running for mayor of Tampa in next years election.
Published Oct. 2, 2018
Updated Oct. 2, 2018

The political attention might be elsewhere–think Gillum, DeSantis, Nelson, Scott– but Tampa's March mayoral election is well underway.

Wednesday will mark the first high-profile forum. Hosted by the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce at the Dale Mabry campus of Hillsborough Community College, all the major candidates have confirmed they'll be there–except Straz.

"It's a personal thing," said Straz campaign manager Mark Hanisee on Monday, explaining Straz's absence from the chamber forum as a result of an unavoidable private conflict.

Former police chief Jane Castor, former county commissioner Ed Turanchik, City Council members Mike Suarez and Harry Cohen and branding consultant Topher Morrison and community activist LaVaughn King  will be there, according to the chamber's website.

Aside from Straz, only political novice Michael Anthony Hazard  declined to appear. Hazard's campaign has been largely inactive since he acknowledged voting illegally. The Hillsborough County Sheriff's office has been investigating, a spokeswoman said last week.

Straz's aides weren't concerned about any lasting political damage.

"It's a long campaign," Hanisee said.

Editor's Note:  This post originally incorrectly stated that LaVaughn King won't be attending Wednesday's forum. King will attend, chamber officials said Tuesday.