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Charlie Justice to launch re-election campaign next week

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

Pinellas County Commissioner Charlie Justice is officially launching his re-election campaign Wednesday, November 18 at Bella Brava in downtown St. Pete.

Justice, a Democrat, will be at the Italian eatery and downtown hot spot on Beach Drive from 5:30 until 7 p.m..

A flier announcing the event reminds supporters that even if they can’t make it, they can still mail in a check.

The event will provide appetizers. A cash bar will also be on hand.

“All contributions gratefully appreciated,” the flier reads.

Of the 607 people invited on a Facebook event page, 32 indicated they’d be going with another 40 checked off as “maybes.”

Among those planning to attend include fellow commissioner Ken Welch and an impressive array of Democratic activists including Christian Haas, Suzanne Snurpus, Lucinda Johnston, Jan Lund, Jasmina Foran and Frank Wells.

Former state Senate candidate and USF St. Pete professor Judith Anne McLauchlan also RSVP-ed. Former St. Pete City Council member Jeff Danner also indicated he would be attending.

Justice is being challenged by Republican Mike Mikurak who already has a fundraising jump with more than $47,000 in contributions as of the most recent campaign finance documents filed.

The Pinellas County Commission gained a Democratic majority last year when Democrat Pat Gerard defeated Republican Ed Hooper to replace the uber-conservative Norm Roche.

It’s the first time Democrats have controlled that dais in more than 50 years. That’s something Republicans are likely to try to remedy. In fact, that exact goal was brought up during a Pinellas County Republican Executive Committee meeting last year when Nick DiCeglie was elected chair.

During that meeting he emphasized boosting voter turnout at the polls and eyed not just national and state seats, but specifically mentioned winning back a Republican majority in the County Commission.

Janelle Irwin has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. She also hosts a weekly political talk show on WMNF Community radio. Janelle formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for Patch.com and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a diehard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and the ongoing Pier debacle. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also the devoted mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder. To contact, email janelle@floridapolitics.com.

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