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Browning pulls big endorsement in Pasco superintendent's race

Challenger Kurt Browning snagged a significant endorsement in his bid to oust incumbent Pasco County superintendent Heather Fiorentino on Wednesday with the announcement that incoming House speaker Will Weatherford is in his corner.

"To me, Kurt Browning has had success at everything he's done," Weatherford told the Gradebook. "I certainly have spent a lot of time with Kurt over the years. I have a lot of respect for him. I think he has the ability, the leadership style, the political savvy to navigate through a very challenging process, and he just cares about the kids."

Weatherford said his endorsement was not against Fiorentino, but rather for Browning, who said he would run for the schools job after resigning as Florida secretary of state. Browning also served as Pasco elections supervisor for more than two decades.

With the many challenges ahead to improve schools amid challenging resources, Weatherford said, "Kurt Browning is the person to address those the best."

Browning has garnered a lot of political and financial support since entering the race, but Fiorentino is not left high and dry. She continues to have the backing of some players including highly popular state Sen. Mike Fasano. Moon Lake handyman Ken Benson, also in the race for the Republican primary, has not announced any endorsements.

The primary, which is closed because of write-in candidates, will take place on Aug. 14.