TAMPA — Who is the Plumbers and Pipefitters Local Union 123 supporting in Tampa City Council District 6?
Well, there's that $1,000 check Toledo got from the union on Nov. 20. And there's the Dec. 4 letter from union business manager Todd Vega saying the union "was proud to support Jackie Toledo for City Council District 6. We feel that Jackie's enthusiasm, determination and strong commitment will serve the residents of Tampa and the City Council well. We are very pleased to endorse a candidate such as Jackie."
How about Guido Maniscalco?
There's another $1,000 check that the union has now written to Maniscalco's campaign. And that check came with another announcement from Vega on Monday: "Plumbers and Pipefitters Local Union 123 is proud to offer its SOLE endorsement of Guido Maniscalco in the Tampa City Council District 6 race. Guido has proven himself to be a person of integrity and commitment who upholds the values of Tampa's working families. We put our full support behind Guido's candidacy and the ideals he represents."
In a telephone interview, Vega said he wrote the check for Toledo after someone — he wouldn't say who — approached him last year about supporting her. It was that person's opinion that Toledo would be the only person in the District 6 race, he said. Vega said he didn't do the research that he probably should have (Maniscalco had launched his candidacy in January 2014). He said he had never spoke to Toledo or anyone from the campaign and did not authorize her campaign to use the union's name in its advertising. He did not mention the Dec. 4 letter, which the Toledo campaign later provided to the Tampa Bay Times.
The plumbers and pipefitters union covers an 11-county area that includes Tampa and Hillsborough County. It has about 1,000 members.
"I am honored to be endorsed by an organization that represents so many working families," Maniscalco said in a statement released with the latest endorsement.
"I don't think it's a change of direction," Toledo campaign consultant Anthony Pedicini said of Vega's announcement on Monday. "They gave $1,000 to two candidates. That's what a lot of people do."
Pedicini raised the possibility that "someone guilted" the union into coming out for Maniscalco and said Toledo is happy to have support from other labor unions (except for the Tampa Police Benevolent Association, which has not made an endorsement in the race).
District 6 covers West Tampa and parts of South Tampa. The third candidate in the race is West Tampa air conditioning contractor Tommy Castellano. Early voting began Monday and lasts through Sunday. The primary is on March 3.