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Aakash Patel picks up endorsement of prominent Fla. Republican Joe Gruters

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

Tampa entrepreneur Aakash Patel is touting the endorsement of another prominent Florida Republican backing his bid for the District 1 seat on the Hillsborough County Commission.

This time It’s Joe Gruters, the Sarasota-region state Representative who also serves as the vice chairman of the Florida Republican Party. Gruters was Donald Trump’s campaign co-chairman in Florida in 2016.

“I’ve known Aakash for a long time,” Gruters said in a statement issued by the Patel campaign. “Aakash is a staunch advocate for our children and small businesses in Hillsborough County. I couldn’t be prouder to endorse Aakash Patel.”

Panhandle U.S. Rep. and former state lawmaker Matt Gaetz endorsed Patel last week.

Patel says he’s honored to receive the backing of both Republicans.

“I have known Matt Gaetz for years and have seen his dedication on behalf of the people of Florida both in Tallahassee and Washington, DC..,” he said. “Joe Gruters is someone I greatly admire who has been a strong advocate for less government and the business-friendly policies that I believe in.”

The 33-year-old Patel announced his candidacy in June and remains the only Republican to enter the contest to succeed Sandy Murman, who has already announced that she will step down from the seat to run for the countrywide District 7 seat.

Tampa City Councilwoman Yolie Capin and Democratic House Minority Leader Janet Cruz are running in the Democratic primary for District 1.

District 1 encompasses northwest Hillsborough County, Westshore, South Tampa and most of the southeastern part of the county.

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Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served as five years as the political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. He also was the assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley. He's a San Francisco native who has now lived in Tampa for 15 years and can be reached at mitch.perry@floridapolitics.com.

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