Earlier this month the Pinellas County Republican Executive Committee voted unanimously to oppose Greenlight Pinellas, the tax swap proposal that would include a one-cent sales tax increase for enhanced bus and light-rail service in the county.
“I think at that point it's really tough to say there's Republican support," committee member Daryle Hamel told the Tampa Tribune. "While you may have individual candidates or elected officials support it, I think there's a clear definition that as a party, this is a massive tax increase.”
Au contraire, says Kyle Parks with Yes on Greenlight, the political committee pushing for passage of the transit tax.
"If you really want to hit a nerve (about GOP support), ask Susan Latvala or Karen Seel or Frank Hibbard. I can go on and on and on," he says of notable Republicans in the county who are fully supportive of the measure.
In fact it Yes on Greenlight announced today that Latvala, Seel and Janet Long, the three females on the County Commission, will be in attendance on September 9 for a Women Leaders for Greenlight Pinellas fundraiser.
Latvala and Seel are Republicans, and Long was at one time reportedly recruited by the Republican Party of Florida to consider running for state legislature as an "R," though she resisted such an effort.
"The numbers are showing that we have very good support from moderate Republicans," Kyle told CL on Thursday.
"The Chamber wouldn't be involved with this if this were a partisan issue," added Chris Steinocher, President & CEO of the St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce.
Based on what happened Tuesday night in the election, Pinellas Republicans who do support Greenlight — like Dave Eggers and John Morroni, fared better than those who have publicly opposed the measure. Both Norm Roche and Tom Rask lost badly in their races for Pinellas County Commission seats Tuesday night, though the Republican who defeated Roche in the County Commission District 2 race, Clearwater state Representative Ed Hooper, is also a Greenlight critic.
But Barb Haselden with No Tax for Tracks isn't buying the idea that this week's primary vote will have anything to do with what happens on November 4. “I didn’t see any connecting of the dots there at all,” she said, attributing Morroni’s name recognition and the fact that Rask “really didn’t start in earnest in the campaign until five weeks ago," for the reason for the outcome there.
The Women Leaders for Greenlight Pinellas event takes place on Tuesday, September 9 at 5:30 p.m. at the Hyatt Regency Clearwater Beach Resort and Spa, 301 South Gulfview Boulevard (though we should add that this reporter will be moderating a debate on Greenlight hosted by the Disston Heights Neighborhood Association on the same evening in St. Pete).