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Largo City Commission incumbent decides to seek re-election amid Robert Avery extortion scandal

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

Adding to the drama that plagued a Largo City Commission race this week is a new twist. Incumbent Commissioner Curtis Holmes now says he’s planning to run for re-election. Up until his announcement Wednesday, two candidates were vying for the seat he had planned to vacate and one of them was charged with extortion.

Robert Avery was charged Monday with felony extortion after a threatening email sent to his opponent, 24-year old activist Aaron Darr, was traced back to Avery’s computer. Avery reportedly admitted sending the email claiming to have damning information on Darr to law enforcement, but later claimed his computer must have been hacked.

The email threatened releasing the damaging information if Darr did not drop out of the race. It’s unclear what negative information Avery may have had access to. Scandalous photos of Darr already surfaced after a disgruntled ex-boyfriend released them. Darr has also been very public about his status as gay and HIV positive.

Holmes’ decision to seek re-election after previously saying he wouldn’t was not a result of the extortion scandal. According to the Tampa Bay Times, Holmes said, “if you want to debate issues here, fine. What they’re doing is zany.”

Holmes has not yet filed qualifying documents for the race. The deadline to do so has not yet been determined. The current City Commission still has to approve a deadline.

Holmes was elected to the commission in 2009 and then re-elected in 2012. He serves or has served on numerous boards including as past president of Clearwater Jaycees, former board member of Rodeheaver, Boys Ranch, director and volunteer for Second Chance for Strays, and former member Citizens Advisory Board. He’s also a 2008 graduate of the Largo Citizen’s Academy and a current member of the Pinellas Republican Executive Committee.

Holmes told the Times he plans to run a campaign based on the “experience counts” mentality.

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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