Democrats emerge to challenge Larry Ahern for State House seat, Jim Frishe for open State Senate seat

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Two weeks ago, I warned my Republican friends that the Democrats were making their move in Pinellas County, lining up candidates to run in key battleground seats.

Then, like clockwork, Democratic candidates filed in House District 65 and 68. Despite being out-manned and out-gunned, the Dems have decided they aren’t going to give up Pinellas and Tampa Bay without a fight.

Within the last week, two more candidates have emerged to challenge Republican candidates previously thought to be on their way to easy victories.

In District 66, where Republican State Rep. Larry Ahern is running, Joanne “Cookie” Kennedy has joined Mary Lou Ambrose on the Democratic side of the ballot for this seat comprising many of Pinellas’ beach communities.

A member of the Indian Rocks Beach City Commission, Kennedy ran against and lost badly to Dennis Jones in 2002. One of the interesting rumors I’ve heard about Kennedy’s newfound interest in state politics is that she was recruited to run for the State House by former State Representative Frank Peterman.  Yes, that Frank Petersman. Who knew he was in the candidate recruitment business?

Kennedy’s running is so typical of the Democratic Party.  Here you have a seat with a Republican who has only been on the ballot once and not for a lot of the voters in this newly-drawn district.  Yes, Larry Ahern is well-funded and the seat leans Republican, but wasn’t he the underdog in 20120 against a better-funded candidate? Picking off legislative incumbents in Pinellas is a blood sport around here. So, shouldn’t the Democrats have gotten organized and sorted out internally who – either Ambrose or Kennedy – would run against Ahern?

Nope, that’s not how the Democrats do things. Perhaps that’s why they’re in the position they are in in Tallahassee.

Just don’t ask me who is Mark Moon, the guy who filed to run for the open State Senate seat in south Pinellas that has been held by the term-limited Dennis Jones. Currently, Jim Frishe is the only other candidate in the race, but no one was expecting the Democrats to not field a candidate in this seat.

Moon’s Facebook page says he is a lawyer and an Army veteran, so we can assume he knows how to put one foot in front of the other.  But who knows what are his political capabilities.

Looking at his voter file, it shows Moon is a registered with no party affiliation.  He did not not vote in 2010.

But at least the Democrats are filing out the dance card, right?

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including,,, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.