News of Susan Latvala’s decision to not seek a fourth term on the Pinellas County Commission was such a shock that few, if any, of her closest confidants or political allies knew about her decision until they read it on the Tampa Bay Times website.
But now that Latvala is not running, a scrum of candidates will likely jostle to replace her, most notably former County Commissioner Neil Brickfield and well-regarded up-and-coming lawyer, Brian Aungst, Jr.
Brickfield tells me he will make a decision about running by Thursday. He had previously considered running in the special election for Congressional District 13, but passed on that. He is currently the executive director of the Pinellas Police Athletic League.
Aungst is the son of former Clearwater mayor Brian Aungst and is a lawyer at white-shoe law firm Macfarlane, Ferguson and McMullen. He is a gubernatorial appointee to the Juvenile Welfare Board. He is widely considered one of the rising stars of the Pinellas GOP.
Also interested in running is controversial East Lake fire commissioner Mark Weinkrantz.
State Rep. Peter Nehr originally intended to run for the seat, but withdrew when Latvala made it clear that she was running again. Now that that has changed, Nehr could be thinking of throwing his hat in the ring.
Former Tarpon Springs Mayor Beverly Biliris is also reportedly considering entering the race.
As for prospective Democrats, Bob Hackworth lost to Latvala in 2012 and is never afraid to put his name on a ballot. Of course, this is the most Republican seat on the Commission, so any Democrat should be wary of running.
Six other candidates have announced their intention to run to represent District 4: Republicans Scott Fisher, Timothy Keffalas and Wanda Kimsey, along with Democrat Jack McAdoo, plus Dustan Showers and Marcus Harrison, who are not affiliated with any party.