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Pat Frank campaign ad riles some of those photographed with her

in The Bay and the 'Burg by

An ad featuring a photo of Hillsborough Clerk of the Courts Pat Frank surrounded by a group of African-Americans in the Florida Sentinel-Bulletin is upsetting some of those photographed. They say that it appears that they support her candidacy, when in fact they say they don’t.

Frank is running for re-election to the clerk’s position, a position she’s held since 2004. She’s facing a primary challenge in fellow Democrat Kevin Beckner in the Aug. 30 primary.

The ad in question ran in a recent edition of Sentinel-Bulletin, the bi-weekly newspaper serving the Tampa Bay Area African-American community. With the exception of Andrew Warren, a Democrat running for state attorney in Hillsborough this fall, everyone else in the photo happens to be black — and in comments on Facebook, a few of those featured in the ad are unhappy about it.

Jeffery Alex James Johnson, wrote, “That picture wasn’t taken for an endorsement. I’m pictured in their (sic) and that wasn’t purpose of the picture.”

Sam Wright Sr. writes, “She wants the community to know that Negroes are supporting her. She should be ashamed to exploit Negroes in that matter!”

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Ian Whitney is a spokesman for the Frank campaign. In a statement sent to SPB Tuesday afternoon, he said Frank will replace the photo in the ad with a photo of her with President Obama.

As a school board member, Pat Frank was on the front line of the fight to desegregate Hillsborough County schools. She fought for equal resources for schools in traditionally black neighborhoods. As a legislator, she wrote the law creating mandatory kindergarten and worked tirelessly to fund Florida A&M University. She fought to create Martin Luther King Jr. Day and was a leader in the efforts to pass the Equal Rights Amendment. As Clerk, Pat Frank fought against an attempt to turn probation services over to controversial for-profit corporation that the New York Times said created a perpetual cycle of poverty.
She is proud to have met with this group of influential African-American pastors, hear their concerns and talk about her office. Black pastors have always played a most critical and fundamental role in the fight for civil rights, voting rights, and justice. Even though this meeting took place as a tropical storm made landfall and government offices were closing, she wouldn’t have missed it.
A few other candidates also attended the meeting, and were included in a photo that our campaign specifically took for inclusion in the Florida Sentinel Bulletin. The campaign included the photo to showcase Clerk Frank’s outreach to the African-American community in an ad that also featured the endorsement of Clerk Frank by the Florida Sentinel Bulletin. We did not intend to imply the support of any individual candidates or individuals.”
“We are replacing the photo in this ad with one of Clerk Frank and President Obama, and would like to emphasize that this is not intended to imply that Clerk Frank has been endorsed by the president, though she would be delighted if she were. It does, however, reflect her strong support of the president.
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Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served as five years as the political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. He also was the assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley. He's a San Francisco native who has now lived in Tampa for 15 years and can be reached at mitch.perry@floridapolitics.com.

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