Primary candidates in Pasco races land endorsements

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A number of Pasco County’s political leaders are endorsing candidates in several primary races.

To start, County Commission Chairwoman Ann Hildebrand has announced her retirement from public life when her term ends this year and likewise has named her intended successor by endorsing former school board member Kathryn Starkey, whom she says she has known for 20 years and considers her a good friend.

Hildebrand also has made clear her support of Commissioners Ted Schrader and Jack Mariano and Property Appraiser Mike Wells as they each run for reelection.

In District 2, with two years left in her term, Commissioner Pat Mulierihas voiced her support of Karen King. King is known for her membership on the county’s Tourist Development Council. The two also are known to share a solid support of veterans affairs.

Mulierihas is not shy in her endorsement, and can be seen driving around with a “Karen King” sign boldly displayed on her truck. Mulierihas said she also has donated to incumbent Superintendent Heather Fiorentino for Pasco County School District superintendent. “I told Kurt [Browning]” who is running against Fiorentino in the Republican primary, “nothing against you, but I’m staying loyal to Heather,” she said.

Yet, Browning has a worthy endorsement of his own in State Rep. Will Weatherford. The future House speaker announced last week that he was endorsing Kurt Browning.

“[Browning has] shown true leadership and skill” carrying out his previous jobs as Florida’s secretary of state and supervisor of elections in Pasco, said Weatherford. “The students, parents and teachers of Pasco County can count on Kurt’s leadership and vision.”

Kenneth W. Benson, a New Port Richey resident who operates a lawn maintenance business, is also facing off against Browning and Fiorentino in the upcoming Republican primary.

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.