Tampa Chamber hosting straw poll of local and state candidates tonight

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The Tampa Chamber of Commerce is hosting a one-stop shop of 2014 political candidates Wednesday night at the Tampa Bay Times Forum.

For three hours from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m., 39 candidates or their representatives will be mingling with voters.

There will be candidates for offices in just about all corners of government, from local offices like school board and county commission to judicial contests and all the way on up to state legislative seats.

“People are encouraged to get out and talk to the candidates,” chamber president and CEO Bob Rohrlack said. “Don’t just read brochures and get the fliers in the mail”

The event is open to the public. Because there are so many political hopefuls represented, the forum will be casual. Candidates will mingle with constituents talking about their priorities.

The Chamber is emphasizing business though. The group doesn’t endorse candidates, but prioritizes business-friendly policy.

Here’s a list of everyone who’s going (some candidates are sending campaign staff).

Candidate First Candidate Last Candidate for Office Seeking
Robert Bauman Candidate for Circuit Judge, 13th Judicial Circuit, Group 34
Elizabeth Belcher Candidate for County Commission, District 2
Sen. Jeff Brandes Candidate for State Senator, District 22
Norman Cannella Candidate for County Court Judge, Group 12
Rick Cochran Candidate for County Commission, District 4
Alan Cohn Candidate for U.S. Representative, District 15
Comm. Victor Crist Candidate for County Commission, District 2
John Dingfelder Candidate for Circuit Judge, 13th Judicial Circuit, Group 8
Janet Dougherty Candidate for County Commission, District 4
Rep. James Grant Candidate for State Representative, District 64
Dr. Stacy Hahn Candidate for School Board, District 6
Sally Harris Candidate for School Board, District 2
Shawn Harrison Candidate for State Representative, District 63
Comm. Al Higginbotham Candidate for County Commission, District 7
Carl Hinson Candidate for Circuit Judge, 13th Judicial Circuit, Grp. 8
Pat Kemp Candidate for County Commission, District 7
Don Kruse Candidate for County Commission, District 7
Robin Lester Candidate for County Commission, District 7
Paula Meckley Candidate for School Board, District 6
Ed Narain Candidate for State Representative, District 61
Chris Nash Candidate for County Court Judge, Group 12
Mark Nash Candidate for County Commission, District 7
Melissa Polo Candidate for Circuit Judge, 13th Judicial Circuit, Group 34
Comm. Adam Putnam Candidate for Commissioner of Agriculture
Nan Rich Candidate for Governor
Rep. Dennis Ross Candidate for U.S. Representative, District 15
Timothy Schock Candidate for County Commission, District 7
Michael Scionti Candidate for Circuit Judge, 13th Judicial Circuit, Grp. 19
Dipa Shah Candidate for School Board, District 6
Sean Shaw Candidate for State Representative, District 61
Michelle Popp Shimberg Candidate for School Board, District 2
Lee Sierra Candidate for School Board, District 6
Melissa Snively Candidate for School Board, District 4
Rep. Ross Spano Candidate for State Representative, District 59
Karen Stanley Candidate for Circuit Judge, 13th Judicial Circuit, Group 20
Randy Toler Candidate for School Board, District 6
Barbara Twine Thomas Candidate for Circuit Judge, 13th Judicial Circuit, Group 8
Laura Ward Candidate for Circuit Judge, 13th Judicial Circuit, Group 20
Dr. Stacy White Candidate for County Commission, District 4

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.