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Tuesday, Nov 21, 2017
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William March: Speaker Corcoran denies taking sides in House primary

From the outside, it looked a lot like House Speaker Richard Corcoran was working hard to swing the Republican primary in House District 58 to Lawrence McClure over Yvonne Fry.

McClure got heavy contributions from political committees of legislators in Corcoran's legislative team, plus political allies, clients and co-workers of Corcoran's lobbyist brother, Mike Corcoran. An independent committee formed to attack Fry still hasn't revealed its funding sources, and McClure's campaign manager, Anthony Pedicini, who has ties to House leadership and the state Republican Party, has been linked to use of anonymous, "dark money" committees in the past.

But Corcoran denied it in an interview this week.

"I had nothing to do with it," he said. Asked about his brother's involvement, he said, "My brother roots for the Cowboys. I root for the Bucs."

Patel raising, spending in county race

Aakash Patel, Republican aiming at the District 1 county commission seat, has surprised local political insiders with his strong fundraising for a young, first-time candidate.

He's brought in nearly $230,000 in his campaign and his independent political committee since June, including a $20,000 loan from himself.

But Patel has also been spending more heavily than any other county commission candidate — $86,345, for an election that's still 13 months away. The next biggest spender is Republican Stacy White at $31,511.

Patel has spent heavily on fees to a law firm and on political consultants, and on social media, which he said is expensive but effective.

"My strategy has been to think and plan one step ahead," he said.

For example, he said, he's already bought birthday cards for every voter in the district, to be sent out over the next year.

The law firm money? He said it's for "research," including what's known as "opposition research," digging up damaging information about opponents, including Democrat Janet Cruz.

Victor Crist invisible in county fundraising

Commissioner Victor Crist, meanwhile, has pulled in a measly $4,000 over two months in his campaign to move from his District 2 seat to countywide District 5.

Crist said he hasn't been actively fundraising for the last couple of months because of his elderly father's illness and repeated hospitalizations, which have required extensive family care-giving.

Fundraising is "the part of the process that I enjoy least, but I can do it quickly if I have to," he said. "Hopefully, starting January 1, I'm going to the wall and bust my chops. I can raise $300,000 or $400,00 in six months."

Andrew Learned campaigns from Bahrain

How do you run for a congressional seat from East Hillsborough, Polk and Lake counties? If you're Andrew Learned, you head for Bahrain.

Learned, one of several Democrats who have filed against Rep. Dennis Ross, R-Lakeland, is a Naval Reserve lieutenant. He owes the Navy two weeks a year plus a weekend a month for drill — not a great way to run for office.

So Learned volunteered instead for a three-week overseas deployment, which will satisfy his obligation through 2018, he told backers in a recent email. He's working as a planner for Naval Forces Central Command.

He's still campaigning, though, from 7,567 miles away. The campaign recently put out a news release when he got a commendation medal for work done in a previous deployment.

He's scheduled to be back this weekend.

No censure for county GOP chair Tamargo

A move by a few members of the local Republican Party to censure chair Deborah Tamargo for what they called rudeness has collapsed, and party vice-chair Jeff Lukens, who had said he was resigning over the issue, isn't resigning after all.

The reason, several party insiders said, is the state party let the locals know they don't have the authority to censure anyone. They could file a grievance, but not censure.

Advocates of holding the party's monthly meeting at The River at Tampa Bay church pushed the censure measure after Tamargo sought to shorten repetitive debate on the meeting site last month.

Meanwhile, the Temple Terrace Area Republican Club, responding to the onslaught of attack mailers against Yvonne Fry in the House District 58 primary, called on the county party this week to "reject negative attack campaigns that are degrading to Republican candidates."

The party put off considering it until after the Dec. 19 general election.

Contact William March at [email protected]

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