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Kathleen Peters makes third GOP endorsement for Will Newton

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

State Rep. Kathleen Peters has endorsed St. Pete City Council candidate Will Newton for District 7.

“As elected officials, our first priority is to keep citizens safe. Will Newton understands this, and his life’s work demonstrates his commitment to making our neighborhoods safer,” Peters said. “I strongly endorse his candidacy and look forward to his continued service to our community.”

Peters had initially backed the only Republican in the race, Sheila Scott-Griffin, but that candidate was defeated in the August Primary. Scott-Griffin announced last week she was putting her weight behind Newton instead of his opponent, Lisa Wheeler-Brown.

Peters makes the third Republican candidate in a row to back Newton, who is a Democrat. Though the race is nonpartisan, party politics have come into play. During the primary the Florida Democratic Party paid for mailers critical only of Scott-Griffin.

Because both Newton and Wheeler-Brown are Democrats, endorsements from prominent conservatives in the city could help Newton earn support from more right-leaning voters in affluent parts of the city.

Midtown and Childs Park, the cities poorest and most crime-plagued neighborhoods, are part of District 7. Wheeler-Brown earned the most votes during the closed primary in that district.

That leaves Newton’s post-primary campaign looking toward the rest of the city for support in what will be an open November 3 general election. Scott-Griffin’s endorsement could give Newton a boost in District 7 while the endorsement from Peters may help in North St. Pete.

“I am proud to have the support of Representative Peters,” Newton said. “I admire her long track record of service to our community and I look forward to working with her over the coming years.”

Newton also earned an endorsement from City Council member Bill Dudley Tuesday.

Newton and Wheeler-Brown are vying for the seat currently occupied by Newton’s brother, Wengay. Council member Newton is not seeking re-election due to term limits.

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 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

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