Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Democrat Hopeful in Commission Run

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Democrat Hopeful in Commission Run

Article excerpt

Ray Porter knows the numbers.

Since 1966, Sarasota County voters have not elected a single Democrat to the County Commission.

Still, Porter, a Sarasota Democrat, said he sees reasons to be hopeful that his campaign against Republican primary winner Alan Maio this fall will break that 48-year streak.

"There's always got to be a chance," Porter said.

In this case, Porter points out that while Maio's GOP primary win was big, there were still 30 percent of Republicans that voted for Republican Lourdes Ramirez, who advocated for a more restrictive growth and development approach. And in the other County Commission primary, Shannon Snyder pulled 40 percent of the vote against winner Paul Caragiulo, while also raising red flags about the direction of growth and development in the community. Whether 30 or 40 percent, Porter said there are a lot of Republicans that clearly were drawn to those other candidates' concerns.

"There's a lot of disaffected Republicans out there," Porter said.

Porter, a 56-year-old former journalist, thinks he can win over some of those voters plus pull in support from Democrats and independents, which combined account for more than 50 percent of the 274,000 registered voters in Sarasota County.

That does not mean Porter says he will push a no-growth agenda. He said he will be advocating a slower steady growth than he thinks Maio and his supporters are seeking.

Clearly Maio sees the race differently. He said with the primary over, he thinks he will be able to bring Republican voters together and support his campaign.

Though Republicans have won every race for County Commission since 1966, Maio said he will not take the general election lightly.

"We're not taking anything for granted," said Maio, a planner and accountant.

Maio, Porter and independent candidate John Minder will battle in the Nov. 4 primary to see who will represent District 4 on the County Commission. That seat now is held by Republican Nora Patterson, who is in her final year on the commission.

Fire Fitzgerald?

Newly uncovered text messages to Gov. Rick Scott's office suggest Sarasota beer distributor John Saputo was using his position on the New College of Florida's Board of Trustees to try to get Keith Fitzgerald fired from his teaching job in 2012 because he was running for Congress against Saputo's friend, U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Longboat Key.

In a text message obtained by the Miami Herald and made public last week, Tallahassee lobbyist Nick Iarossi told Scott's deputy chief of staff in 2012 that Saputo was "trying to get New College to fire Keith Fitzgerald bc he is running against Vern evne (sic) though he's been a professor for like 10 years and we have cut his salary and hours and followed all the procedures of the BOG in handling it."

Iarossi is the lobbyist for the New College Foundation Inc. …

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