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Cano joins District 62 race

With a new candidate filed - marijuana rights and Democratic campaign Chris Cano a potential race is developing in the previously quiescent West Tampa/Town 'n' Country state House District 62.

Michael Alvarez, a Wellswood native, Democratic Party activist and construction company executive who's been in the race for more than a year, remains the apparent frontrunner for the seat being vacated by term-lim ited Rep. Janet Cruz. Including more than $21,000 in loans from himself, Alvarez said he'll show close to $50,000 raised as of the end of May and has been heavily emphasizing person-toperson politicking.

School board member Susan Valdes, who considered entering the race, didn't file a legally required resign-to-run letter by the deadline Friday, according to the Supervisor of Elections office.

But the possibility of other candidates and the personal nature of politics in the district's tightly knit neighborhoods mean a potentially wide-open race.

Art teacher Alicia Campos, who filed in April, this week didn't give a firm answer when asked about talk among political insiders that she's considering withdrawing.

'I may be doing too much,' Campos acknowledged via text message, noting she's trying to organize a non-profit for immigrant children, adding she's glad other candidates have filed 'who care about immigrants, Latinos, and live in the district.' The Democratic primary is

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Inside Politics


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expected to decide the race in the Democratic-leaning district. One no-party candidate has filed, but no Republican has.

The previous frontrunner, John Rodriguez, left the race to take a job as lobbyist for the city of St. Petersburg, leaving Democrats wondering what would happen in the district they dominate.

Cano, 34, a union organizer from a long-time West Tampa family, has run previously for soil and water conservation district supervisor and the state House.

But he may be better known for medical marijuana advocacy, which began with efforts to ameliorate his late father's dementia. In 2014, he was arrested with 24 grams of pot he said was for his father.

He said he's running partly because the Legislature botched implementation of the medical marijuana amendment, but also because the district faces problems with affordable housing and livable wages.

'People are working 40-50 hours a week just to be broke. Teachers and nurses are barely making ends meet.' Alvarez, 33, married with one child and one on the way, said he's running because, 'Public education has just been whacked' by the Legislature; and because of the need for infrastructure improvements and expansion of Medicaid.

He's previously been involved in Democratic organizations and campaigns including the Hispanic caucus, as has Cano.

Trump pardon: Democrats say no, Republicans maybe

Responses split predictably along party lines when candidates in the U.S. House District 15 race were asked whether Donald Trump has, as he claimed last week in a tweet, the 'absolute right' to pardon himself for a crime.

Democrats mostly replied with an indignant 'no' and Republicans said maybe or didn't respond.

Democrats: Andrew Learned called the idea 'repugnant to the ideals of our democracy.' Kristen Carlson, noting she's a former prosecutor, said, 'I fully believe in the rule of law and that no one, including the president, is above the law.' Ray Pena, Democrat. 'I strongly do not believe that Trump has the right to pardon himself,' under a 1974 opinion by the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel. If he does, 'I would certainly support' impeachment.

Republicans: Neil Combee. 'It is an open question ... thus far untested, undecided.' Danny Kushmer said the Constitution gives the president the power to pardon anyone except in impeachments, but, 'No one is above the law. I believe a sitting president should not pardon him/ herself.' Ross Spano said there's 'no specific prohibition' in the Constitution against the president pardoning, but that Trump won't need to 'because he did nothing illegal.' Sean Harper, Republican. 'My understanding of the Constitution is that the President can pardon anyone of any federal crime,' but, 'The conversation about this … is designed to be a distraction from all the good things that the President is doing.' Republicans Curt Rogers and Ed Shoemaker didn't respond.

Dana Young gets big business backing

State Sen. Dana Young, R-Tampa, pulled in $184,500 in her Friends of Dana Young political committee during May in her expected hugespending re-election battle with state Rep. Janet Cruz, D-Tampa.

That included $10,000 from Disney, for a total $35,000 from Disney this election cycle; $25,000 from the optometrists' OD EYE PAC; $15,000 each from the Realtors PAC and the Florida Medical Association PAC, $50,000 this cycle; and $7,500 from Mosaic.

Another donor: $25,000 from Associated Industries' Floridians for a Stronger Democracy, total $55,000 this cycle.

That group, in turn, has received heavy contributions recently from Big Sugar, Florida Power and Light and HCA.

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