With U.S. attorney vacancy, Hillsborough’s top prosecutor says he’s staying put

With U.S. attorney vacancy, Hillsborough’s top prosecutor says he’s staying put

Hillsborough County Attorney Andrew Warren, expected by many to be a strong candidate for the open position of U.S. Attorney for Florida Middle District, says he intends to stay in his current office and will not stand for the new one Apply for a job.

But another local prosecutor, confirmed by friends, Stacie Cox Harris, who specializes in stopping human trafficking, will be a strong contender and will be the district’s first black US attorney according to local supporters.

Stacie Harris Cox, United States Assistant Attorney for the Middle District of Florida. She now has a special assignment with the Justice Department. [ Florida State University Alumni ]

The position is likely to attract numerous other qualified applicants whose names won’t be released until later this month.

Warren said he was “approached by various people in Tampa Bay and Washington” about the post, “and there was a wave of support.”

“It’s extremely flattering, but I made a commitment to Hillsborough County four years ago to reform our judicial system. We have made tremendous progress, but our work is still ongoing. I have just been re-elected to continue this work and I intend to do so. “

Some see Warren as an emerging Democratic political star. There was speculation that he would eventually run for attorney general, as well as speculation about the US attorney post. His decision could indicate that he is leaning towards the political path.

A native of Tallahassee and a Florida State University graduate, Harris has been with the Tampa Department of the US Attorney’s Office since 2008, serving as Director of Serious Crimes and Human Trafficking Coordinator. She now has a special assignment with the Justice Department.

Harris wouldn’t comment on her plans, but friends say she told them she was applying.

“There was a lot of community support for her to apply and I think she would make a very strong candidate,” said Fentrice Driskell Rep., D-Tampa.

A seat on the state’s Federal Judicial Nominating Commission has raised questions regarding the Senate’s confirmation of President Joe Biden’s nominations for posts including US attorneys. Both Florida Republican Senators refuse to take part in a commission set up by Democrats.

Reverberations of Black Lives Matter in New Port Richey

The repercussions of last summer’s Black Lives Matter demonstrations can be felt in the New Port Richey City Council elections on April 13th.

Four bipartisan race candidates are seeking two seats across the city – two incumbents and two comparable urban politics outsiders, both of whom say they are running in part because of the aftermath of the protests.

They are council members Matt Murphy and Mike Peters and first-time candidates Kate Connolly and Rachel Giuliani Hagenbaugh.

Matt Murphy, New Port Richey City Council memberMatt Murphy, New Port Richey City Council member [ Matt Murphy ]

Hagenbaugh, a 10-year-old city resident and housewife from a Hispanic and Italian family, is active in the Black Lives Matter movement and has been one of several critics of the city and the police’s response to the events.

Rachel Giuliani Hagenbaugh, New Port Richey City Council nomineeRachel Giuliani Hagenbaugh, New Port Richey City Council nominee [ Rachel Giuliani Hagenbaugh ]

“I’m not black, but my brown skin helps me sympathize with the issue of racism,” said Hagenbaugh.

Connolly, a four-year-old town resident in Tarpon Springs, has worked in advertising, sales, and political agent for Democratic candidates including Hillsborough County Commissioner Mariella Smith.

Kate Connolly, New Port Richey City Council nomineeKate Connolly, New Port Richey City Council nominee [ STEVEN LE – THEE PHOTO NINJA | Kate Connolly ]

Both women say that the council, currently all white and masculine, should be more diverse – Hagenbaugh’s campaign has the slogan “The Woman for Change”. But she and other political insiders acknowledge that the city, with many immigrants from the Midwest, is less conservative than the surrounding county.

For example, Mayor Rob Marlowe, despite being criticized for New Port Richey’s response, declares himself a supporter of Black Lives Matter’s goals. In an interview, he said he was “appalled” by the killings by police, including George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, and “couldn’t be a judge because of his feelings.”

And Peters and Murphy both said the movement raised legitimate questions.

New Port Richey City Council member Mike PetersNew Port Richey City Council member Mike Peters [ Mike Peters ]

However, Peters also said that using social media on both sides is adding to tensions and that “everyone could be a little more understanding”. Murphy said he attended a protest as a bystander “just to see what was going on” and was verbally abused as if he were a counter-protester.

Both men are long-term residents who run local businesses.

New Port Richey Police last summer issued thousands of dollars in anti-noise quotes to Black Lives Matter protesters for using megaphones. They were later dropped but did not cite Proud Boys and other counter-protesters who appeared at the rallies and who also used them.

Police said the counter-demonstrators stopped when asked. However, the protesters said the police had ignored the dangerous, threatening behavior of the counter-demonstrators, many of whom were from outside the city or county, and even provided them with information about protest plans.

The situation drew unprecedented national attention to the small town of approximately 16,000 residents, including coverage in the Washington Post.

The events later became the subject of bitter accusations in public forums at city council meetings.

But Connolly said the atmosphere has now calmed down – “The city has reached out to BLM and the conversation is postponing a little.”

Reis appeals to female voters

“Happy Month of Women’s History!” said a text message sent by Councilor Darden Rice’s mayoral campaign. “Darden Rice broke many glass ceilings and ran for Mayor of St. Pete. Are you ready for a mayor? “

With this and other campaign measures, Rice is actively tracking women’s voices. It might be a good strategy – of the three prominent contestants in the race, Rice is the only woman.

Member of the St. Petersburg City Council and candidate for mayor Darden Rice.Member of the St. Petersburg City Council and candidate for mayor Darden Rice. [ Photo courtesy of Darden Rice ]

A spokesman for the campaign of the opponent Ken Welch described the SMS as misleading – St. Petersburg already had a mayor, Corinne Freeman, from 1977 to 1985.

In an interview, however, Rice stated that this is under the form of government of a weak mayor – very different, she said, than the current system of a strong mayor.

“St. Petersburg has come a long way when an openly gay woman has a real shot, but that’s not why I run, ”she said. “That would break glass and rainbow ceilings, and that’s important and historic, but I’m not asking people to vote for me because I’m a woman. I’m working on my ideas to make St. Petersburg a better place. Nobody else in the race has the urban experience I’ve had. “

Rice said more than half of voters in the city’s 2017 urban elementary school were female.

In a biographical video on her campaign website, Rice shares her battle with breast cancer.

She has posted endorsements from LPAC, which supports lesbian candidates, and Florida’s Ruths List, and hopes to be supported by the national Emily’s List – the latter two of which support Democratic women who choose to vote.