As Kevin Beckner and Pat Frank battle it out in a fierce battle for the Democratic nomination for Hillsborough Clerk of the Circuit Courts, Eric Seidel has been laying low and getting the message throughout the county he too, is a candidate for the office.
The longtime former Fox-13 consumer reporter is in the enviable position of not having a challenger for the Republican nomination opponent in this month’s primary, and thus he’s been able to stay out of the increasingly nasty race between the two Democrats.
Seidel announced on Thursday that he fears the vitriol that’s been employed in the clerk of the court’s race is getting out of control, and so he announced at a news conference at Joe Chillura Square in downtown Tampa that he’s signing a pledge vowing to run a clean campaign moving forward, and hoped to get Beckner and Frank to sign off on it as well.
“We’re just tired of the same old dirty politics,” he said. “The mudslinging, the name calling, all of that. If you can’t say something positive about yourself, it seems the idea is to bash the other guy. But residents of Hillsborough County deserve better than that. Voters want new ideas, and good leadership.”
Seidel’s “Pledge” reads as follows:
1 – We agree that a healthy debate is necessary in a free and open society, and that all opinions and voices should be heard.
2- We agree to run a positive campaign for the office, and to be honest about our records as well as the other candidates.
3- We agree to refrain from launching unfair, misleading or personal attacks against the other candidates.
4- And we agree to denounce any independent political group that unfairly attacks the other candidates.
Seidel said he knows both Beckner and Frank and says he believes that they’re “above the pettiness that we’ve seen in the primary in recent weeks.”
Beckner has been aggressive in calling out Frank for her work ethic and the way that she’s handle the office. If Seidel were to oppose Frank, he’d undoubtedly have to point out why he could run the office better than someone who’s been in charge for the past 12 years. He was asked how he does that in the positive fashion that he was advocating for on Thursday.
“If I want to say I want to bring better organization, if I want to tout my skills as an organizer, as the only attorney running for clerk of the court, I’m all for that. But if you start saying, ‘because they’re not an attorney, this is going to happen’, that type of negative campaigning, that’s what I’m speaking out against. I’m not a career politician. I’m an attorney. The only one in the race. I have the skills and understand the paperwork. I’m the consumer lawyer, so I understand good customer service. Those types of things are what the other candidates should be saying, not talk about bashing the other guy.”
When asked what he would bring new to the office, Seidel repeated that the would improve customer service. He says he hears complaints all the time about people waiting in long lines at the clerk’s office that sometimes aren’t the proper lines they should be in the first place. He also said he would put more videos on the clerk’s website, showing people how to file a claim or collect on a judgement.
Attending the news conference was former Tampa City Councilman and Hillsborough County Commissioner Joe Chillura, who is backing Seidel in the race.
“The two of them should just talk about the issues and not demean each other,” he said of Frank and Beckner. “Most people don’t like name calling and mudslinging.”
“I have always run positive campaigns and I will continue to do so,”responded Frank. “I commend Eric Seidel for his approach and hope it continues through the general election when I fully expect to be the Democratic nominee.”
The Beckner campaign has not responded to request for comment.