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Dick Greco is backing Shawn Harrison in the HD 63 race

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

Battling in an extremely competitive election this fall against Lisa Montelione, House District 63 Republican Representative Shawn Harrison has procured another Democrat to back his re-election campaign.

It’s former Tampa Mayor Dick Greco.

“I’ve had the honor to serve our city and region for four terms as Mayor, over several decades. During that time, I’ve had the privilege to work with some outstanding and selfless men and women who represented their constituents with honor, dignity, and tenacity,” Greco said in a statement. “I’m proud to count Shawn Harrison among them.”

Harrison was elected to the Tampa City Council representing District 7 in 1999, the same year that Greco was easily winning re-election without an opponent for what would turn out to be his fourth and final term in office.

“In hyperpartisan times like these, it’s important we have leaders like Shawn Harrison, who have a proven record of working across the aisle and putting people before partisan politics,” Greco added. “I had the pleasure of working with Representative Harrison for four years when he served on the Tampa City Council. Shawn was highly respected and well liked by his peers, and was a tenacious fighter for his North Tampa district. Sometimes we disagreed, but we always found common ground. Shawn will continue to be our voice in Tallahassee, and his proven ability to work across the aisle will continue to serve Tampa well. As a lifelong Democrat, I’m proud to stand with him in his bid to return to Tallahassee.”

While Greco is a registered Democrat, many in the party regard him as a “DINO,” as in Democrat-in-name-only. He’s made a habit of endorsing Republicans in presidential elections, going back to his backing for George W. Bush over Al Gore in 2000 (Greco did support then-independent Charlie Crist in his run for U.S. Senate in 2010).

Nevertheless, Harrison can boast that it’s another Democrat backing his campaign, following the endorsements of Tampa City Councilman Frank Reddick and Fifth Third regional bank President Brian Lamb in the past week.

“As a young City Councilman, Dick Greco mentored me and showed me by example how to be a leader for all of Tampa, across party lines,” Harrison said. “His ability to bring people together and his leadership skills are unrivaled. I have modeled my political career after his example, always striving to find common ground with my colleagues, and his endorsement is particularly meaningful for me. I have worked very hard my entire career and am the only candidate in this race who has the proven ability to build coalitions of bipartisan support.”

Harrison is pushing the “bipartisan support” line hard, and why not? He’s considered to be a vulnerable Republican in this presidential election year, as he lived through losing the seat back in 2012 after winning it in 2010 and 2014, elections where Republicans dominated at the polls in Florida.

The Florida Democratic Party certainly believes in Montelione, now in her fifth year of representing the same District 7 City Council seat that Harrison served from 1999-2007. The FDP was providing her with financial support in her primary against fellow Democrat Mike Reedy, who dropped out of the contest and announced his support for Montelione last Friday.

House District 63 encompasses parts of New Tampa, Pebble Creek, Lutz, Carrollwood, Lake Magdalene and the USF area.

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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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