Mike Fasano Breaks With GOP Again in Pasco County House Race
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Mike Fasano promised he would not endorse fellow Republican Bill Gunter or Democrat Amanda Murphy in next week’s special election to replace him in the Florida House.
So far, Fasano has kept his word and hasn’t endorsed either. But he said he voted for Murphy by absentee ballot and has campaigned at her side. Fasano warned both Gunter and Murphy to leave him out of their campaign literature. When Republican-aligned groups cited Fasano, he went on the attack. When Florida Democrats and Charlie Crist did the same, Fasano went silent.
After representing the area for almost 20 years in the Legislature, Fasano is popular in the district, but he’s clearly trying to have it both ways. Fasano tears into Gunter and his supporters as “special interests” and part of the “Tallahassee leadership.”
Yet, despite his attacks on Gunter’s supporters, Fasano has deep ties to Tallahassee. He accepted his current position as Pasco County tax collector from Rick Scott. During his time in both the House and the Senate, Fasano held leadership positions. He was GOP leader in the House and president pro tempore in the Senate. Granted, he has often been at odds with the Republican leadership in recent years, voting against prison privatization and backing Crist when the former governor left the GOP and continued his U.S. Senate bid.
Fasano is all-in for Murphy, while trying to insist he has not endorsed her. While popular in the district, Fasano could be vulnerable to a conservative in a Republican primary, especially if -- after backing Murphy -- he turns around and supports Crist, who is expected to run for governor against Scott as a Democrat in 2014. If Fasano crosses party lines again to back Crist, it could have an impact in Pasco County, where Scott beat Alex Sink by 8 percent back in 2010. Fasano will face voters next year if he wants to remain Pasco County's tax collector.
In the meantime, with less than a week to go, he continues to take shots at Gunter while praising Murphy. Even as he continues to insist he’s not endorsing Murphy, conservatives won’t likely forget Fasano’s crossing political lines in 2014, especially with his old friend and ally Charlie Crist now running as a Democrat.
Tallahassee political writer Jeff Henderson wrote this analysis exclusively for Sunshine State News.