Craig Latimer is running for Hillsborough Supervisor of Election- not a surprise to some

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On Monday we contacted Supervisor Lennard's office for comment. Being that it was a holiday, it's no surprise that we have not heard back yet (as of 8:45 a.m. on Tuesday).

But we did reach out to Latimer himself, as well as the two other candidates already on the ballot to run in 2012 for that office on Monday: Democrat Jackie Beiro and Republican Julianne De Priest.

CL has not heard back from Latimer yet, but we did receive e-mail responses from the other candidates.

Beiro wrote back to CL seemingly not affected by the website listing, but referred us to a comment made on the website of the post written on Friday by Tampa Tribune reporter Christian Wade, where a reader commented that Latimer has been "using his office of the SoE to campaign in recent weeks."

CL has no proof of that whatsoever, but that comment prompted Beiro to write us, saying:

'Mr. Latimer has every right to run for office, however, to stay as an "insider" of the SOE. and now to hear people making allegations of this sort, you just never want to appear as though what you're doing is a potential conflict of interest. Think about it — he gets to preside over his own election. Being on the inside of the elections office means you have quite a bit of access to people, resources and information, freely at your fingertips. Maybe there should be a resign to run mandate like with other positions to keep the integrity of the office. "

Julianne De Priest wrote back that "I welcome Mr. Latimer into this race!," but then referred us to a section of the Florida Election law code regarding restrictions on individuals qualifying for public office, without any further comment.

The inclusion of Latimer on the SOE's website home page was first noticed by blogger Peter Schorsch last month, and later commented upon by blogger Michael Hussey on his Pushing Rope blog.

Travis Abercrombie from the Hillsborough office told Schorsch "the site was recently updated as part of a re-branding effort in order to promote transparency and accountability."

But now that Latimer is a full fledged candidate, that effort to promote transparency may be interpreted differently.

On Friday, Craig Latimer, chief of staff for Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections head Earl Lennard, filed paperwork declaring that he is a candidate for the position in 2012.

Lennard himself has not indicated if he will run again after being selected by former Governor Charlie Crist to finish the term of the late Phyllis Busansky, who died in office in 2009, less than a year after she was elected to the position.

Lennard was Busansky's chief of staff and has maintained that position under Lennard. His importance to the office is reflected in the fact that his name appears right below Lennard's on the office's website.

That has struck some observers as unusual, especially now that Latimer is a declared candidate for office.

Over the weekend, CL quickly reviewed Supervisor of Elections websites in over 20 different counties in Florida. On most sites, the name and the photo of the that individual SoE appears on the home page, though on some sites (such as Leon and Miami/Dade), you can't eve find the name of the the supervisor. In our initial search we never found a site that showed the chief of staff listed - but in fact we have learned there is at least one out of the state's 67 counties where that exists - in Lake County Supervisor of Elections office.

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