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Ex-male stripper to run for Congress

Because congressional lines will be redrawn, it's unclear which district the New Port Richey attorney would compete in.

By JAMES THORNER

© St. Petersburg Times, published February 16, 2001


New Port Richey attorney Chuck Kalogianis, defeated two years ago in a run for the state House of Representatives, has trained his sights on the big House in Washington, D.C.

Kalogianis' publicist, Brad Purtlebaugh, said his client mailed filing forms to Tallahassee and Washington, D.C., announcing his run for Congress.

The 37-year-old Democrat lives on Crestknoll Drive between Rowan and Little roads, just inside Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Bilirakis' 9th District. The exact district in which he would compete won't be known until the Florida Legislature redraws congressional boundaries by 2002.

Three congressional districts serve Pasco: Bilirakis' 9th, Democratic U.S. Rep. Karen Thurman's 5th District and Republican Adam Putnam's 12th District.

"He'll be in Thurman's or Bilirakis' district, but for all we know there may be a district coming up from Pinellas that takes in Pasco. . . . It's all up for grabs," said Pasco elections supervisor Kurt Browning.

Kalogianis plunged into the political arena in 1998 by challenging Republican state Rep. Mike Fasano.

The campaign took an odd turn when the St. Petersburg Times revealed that Kalogianis had worked during his law school days as a male stripper in a Boston burlesque troupe called Men In Motion.

Kalogianis tried to use the disclosure to his advantage, jokingly dancing in a chicken suit at a campaign event. He lost by a ratio of nearly 2-to-1 against the much-better-financed Fasano.

The 1998 defeat fresh in mind, former Pasco Democratic Party Chairman Mike Cox considers Kalogianis' U.S. House run ill considered. When Kalogianis ran unsuccessfully for Pasco party chairman last year, Cox opposed him.

"He's a nice guy, but I think his background, the dancing situation -- I don't think he's a viable candidate," Cox said.

The Democrats will need to run a blemish-free candidate to defeat a popular congressman such as Bilirakis, Cox said. The party is considering other Democrats to run for Congress in Pasco, but releasing the names is premature, he said.

On Thursday, Kalogianis declined to talk about his run for Congress.

Purtlebaugh said his client has scheduled interviews with newspapers and TV stations today in the hopes of making a coordinated splash in the media on Saturday.

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