State Rep. Kathleen Peters (R – Treasure Island) announced last week that she was running for a seat on the Pinellas county commission in 2018. In covering this announcement, SaintPetersBlog.Com reported that Peters had campaigned for the state house in 2012 on “repairs and improvements to Pinellas County’s failing sewer system.”
Peters’ current campaign website also makes no mention of sewers.
We asked Peters via e-mail, text and phone message over the last 10 days for any proof she had of having campaigned on “repairs and improvements to Pinellas County’s failing sewer system” in 2012. We received no response. We also asked Peter Schorsch, the author of the article in which the sewer campaign claim was made, whether it was Peters’ claim or his claim. We received no response.
The Guardian also diligently searched the internet for any evidence that Peters campaigned on any sewer issues in 2012, or in any election before the Pinellas County sewer crisis began. We found no evidence that she did.
Peters was backed by State Senator Jack Latvala when she first ran for the state house in 2012, and has continued to receive Latvala’s backing ever since. Latvala is term limited in 2018, which may be a factor in Peters’ decision to leave the State House before she herself is term limited in 2020. Peters is running for the county commission seat currently held by John Morroni, another Latvala protegé.
In announcing her 2018 run for county commission, Peters said that “the legislature launched an all-out assault on local government and home rule this year. I found myself reflecting on my community priorities and where I feel I can have the greatest impact. After long consideration, I have decided to change course and run for County Commission, District 6.”
In “changing course”, Peters is again being accused of abandoning her district by rank and file Republicans the Guardian spoke to on condition of anonymity. The same accusation was leveled at Peters when she ran for Congress in a special election in early 2014. More on that later.
Peters received the “Defender of Home Rule” award in 2014 from the Florida League of Cities. Peters’ current campaign website mentions awards she has received from the Suncoast League of Cities and several other organization. However, her website does not mention of the award from the Florida League of Cities.
Last month, the league opposed increasing the homestead exemption, a popular ballot measure that is widely expected to pass.
Peters’ claim that the legislature “assaulted” home rule “this year” didn’t keep her from allowing House Speaker Richard Corcoran to host a fundraiser for her in Tallahassee in February.
After congressman C.W. Bill Young passed away in 2013, Peters lost to David Jolly in the Republican primary the following January. Jolly went on to win the general election.
The day after losing the GOP primary, Peters refused to endorse Jolly. Peters questioned whether voters could trust Jolly and claimed that the bond between the voters and their congressional representative would be “weakened” by the election of Jolly, a former lobbyist.
Peters also accused Jolly of “lobbying for government-run health care” in the past. Politifact rated Peters’ claim as false. On other health issues, Peters has (for example) claimed that marijuana use causes an increase in depression.
Running for Congress just before and during the 2014 legislative session where flood insurance was a hot topic did not sit well with some rank and file Republicans. As mentioned above, they accused Peters of “abandoning her district.” Peters’ house district contains a high percentage of homes that carry flood insurance.
In October 2014, robocalls between 3 AM and 6 AM on a Sunday morning from the Peters campaign reached voters both in her district and outside of it. The calls announced that she was the “the right person to represent them in Washington” at a time when Peters was running for re-election to the state house.
Earlier this month, Peters missed a vote in the state house on wide-ranging $419 million education policy bill. Peters told the Tampa Bay Times that she was “eating in the back and [the vote] came up quicker than I thought.”
Three Republicans have announced they are running for county commission district 6 in 2018: No Tax For Tracks leader Barb Haselden, term limited State Rep. Larry Ahern and now Kathleen Peters. If Peters’ past is any guide, this primary race could become a post-factual food fight political soap opera classic.
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