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West Central Florida Federation of Labor opts NOT to endorse in Hillsborough Clerks race

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

The West Central Florida Federation of Labor has opted not to make an endorsement in the Hillsborough Clerk of the Courts race.

“We took a position of ‘no endorsement,'” said Cheryl Schroeder, the executive director of the West Central Florida Federation of Labor said on Wednesday.

The Federation represents between 20-25 unions throughout the state.

There are three candidates competing for the position – incumbent Pat Frank, Hillsborough County Commissioner Kevin Beckner, and former Fox-13 WTVT consumer reporter and attorney Eric Seidel.

Schroeder says that all three candidates were screened by a 10-person committee on April 23, and that the committee recommended that the Federation not give an endorsement. She says that was because all three candidates presented various skills and talents that made it difficult for them to choose one candidate over another.

That committee’s recommendation wasn’t binding, but members voting on Tuesday night went ahead with that recommendation, and opted not to endorse any of the candidates.

While Seidel is running unopposed on the GOP side, Frank and Beckner are involved in a bruising battle that is dividing Hillsborough Democrats. Frank has been in Hillsborough politics for over 40 years, while Beckner has been a popular county commissioner finishing his final year after two four-year terms on the Board.

Nick Janovsky, a campaign adviser to Beckner, boasted that the lack of an endorsement was actually a win for Beckner.

“A no endorsement vote from the WCFFL/AFLCIO is a huge blow to the incumbent Pat Frank and a testament to Kevin Beckner’s diligent and hard work on issues like wage theft,” texted Janovsky. “(It) shows the confidence in Kevin to produce solid and quality work as our next Clerk of the Court.”

Or it could just mean that the membership – which Schroeder said was around 38 or 39 people who voted on Tuesday – simply couldn’t find a compelling reason to favor any of the candidates in the contest.

Frank and Beckner square off on August 30, with the winner to face Seidel in November.

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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