A Republican who is not afraid to ruffle feathers of colleagues and opponents alike, straight-talking Pasco Tax Collector Mike Fasano drops one notch to #18 on the 2014 SaintPetersBlog list of Tampa Bay’s Most Powerful Politicians.
When Gov. Rick Scott appointed the New Port Richey resident (and nearly 20-year Tallahassee veteran) as tax collector, it was a move that “puts the office in trusted hands and silences the voice of a populist lawmaker whose blunt talk had alienated fellow Republicans,” according to the Tampa Bay Times. He certainly left large shoes to fill in the Florida House.
At the time, few people would have anticipated Fasano to endorse the then-Democratic candidate Amanda Murphy as his successor over Republican Bill Gunter, a hard-right pastor who lost a County Commission race the year before. After being outspent by Gunter in the special election, Murphy — with the help from Fasano — won the House District 36 seat.
Last month, Fasano made an amusing connection between Gunter’s loss and the special primary for Pinellas County 13th Congressional District.
“Recently, anyone associated with the Florida House Republicans loses,” Fasano told Adam Smith of the Tampa Bay Times. “Gunter and now Peters. Is there a trend and/or a message there from the voters?”
Ruffling feathers, indeed.
Fasano supporting a Democrat shouldn’t have come as a shock to supporters, who have witnessed him over the years speaking out on a variety of issues — a vocal critic of the state-run Citizens Property Insurance Corp., as well as advocating a plethora of pocketbook issues, such as affordable housing and Medicaid expansion. He often blasted bloated legislation coming from both sides of the aisle, such as the construction of the $48 million First District Court of Appeal of Florida courthouse, known as the “Taj Mahal” scandal.
Other issues Fasano held dear during his time in the Florida Capitol: public safety, access to affordable health care for both Florida’s uninsured and the under-insured, and establishing a constituent service program.
It’s little wonder the state GOP “begged” Scott to put Fasano in the Pasco Tax Collector office.
For a complete explanation of how this list was created and who comprised the panel which assembled it, please read here.