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Younger Coe puts on new campaign pin

By KATHRYN WEXLER, DAVID KARP and MARLENE SOKOL

© St. Petersburg Times, published August 25, 2000


Before Harry Lee Coe III ended his life last month with a gunshot, he made his son treasurer of his campaign to be re-elected Hillsborough County State Attorney.

Clearly, Harry Coe IV would have voted for Dad had he gotten the chance.

Now, the scion has decided to publicly back another candidate. Coe IV was recently spotted sporting a campaign sticker for Robert Shimberg, a Democratic candidate who came forward after Harry Lee Coe's death.

"He's a very well-rounded attorney and a wonderful family man," Coe IV said. "Our families have known each other for years."

Shimberg, 38, spent nearly five years as a Hillsborough prosecutor until going into private practice in 1998. He is a south Tampa resident born to a prominent family with supporters at the courthouse and membership in the exclusive Palma Ceia Country Club.

He is also seen as the candidate most likely to uphold the status quo at the State Attorney's Office.

Jonathan Alpert, Shimberg's opponent in the Democratic primary Sept. 5, found little significance in the endorsement. "It's one young man helping another, and I understand they are friends," Alpert said. "So I expect him to support him."

COUNTING CHICKENS: When it comes time to elect a new County Commission chairman in November, Commissioner Chris Hart expects to count on a friend.

Hart has publicly backed state Sen. James T. Hargrett Jr. in his bid to unseat incumbent Commissioner Tom Scott in the Democratic primary. Hart, a Republican, thinks Hargrett, a Democrat, will support his election as commission chairman.

Hart didn't say that Hargrett has promised his vote if elected; he is just counting on the Democrat to recognize a supporter. "It's been very clear to me over the years, whether it be Tom Scott or Jan Platt, they are not going to vote for Republicans regardless of their personal views," Hart said. "I am going to look for people who work across the aisles, and Jim Hargrett does."

To say the least. Hargrett crossed party lines in 1998 to endorse Jeb Bush for governor, and he was rewarded handsomely. He was one of the few Democrats in the Senate to become a committee chairman.

But there's no deal this time, Hargrett said. He said he has not decided who he will vote for. On the other hand, Hargrett said, "I have a reputation for being loyal to friends if it's in the public interest."

Spin Patrol will be watching. If elected, Hargrett's first vote will be for a new chairman.

CAMPAIGN POETRY: Faye Culp's campaign Web site contains an unusual link. With one click, voters can read a collection of Culp's poetry at http://www.fayeculp.com. Her titles include "I Am But One American," "Reflections: Forrest Gump/Oklahoma City," and two poems about a trip to Nigeria.

A sample from her 1999 poem, "Central Nigeria":

"A bending of the branches trailing with silent ripples/ Gives out a signal that just around the bend/ Opportunities are waiting to be proudly proclaimed/ So that all living things can survive in gracious accord!"

Culp said she wasn't sure whether she should link her campaign Web site with her poetry. But several people told her, "Oh yes, it's really good. You need to do that," she said.

"I don't want people to think I'm artsy," Culp said, "but on the other hand, I am a bit artsy."

NELSON ON THE VISOR: Like any good politician, Bill Nelson doesn't turn down exposure.

From high-tech (the Web site) to low-tech (the bumper sticker), the Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate wants to get the word out.

So don't be surprised if you see his name soon in random car windows in Pinellas and Hillsborough counties.

"People will see the sign wherever they're parked, at work, at the grocery store, at the doctor, wherever," says Carl Junstrom, a Town 'N Country entrepreneur who is supplying both the signs and drivers willing to display them.

Junstrom has made a cottage business of car-borne advertising. The signs attach to the visor and can be used for interchangeable messages. The signs measure about 10-by-12 inches and can be flipped up on the windshield or side windows while the car is parked.

"I'm retired, I get bored, and I get ideas, and this is an idea that I've developed," said Junstrom, who is also a self-described "political junkie" and a local organizer for Nelson.

If Junstrom's name seems familiar, here's why: Two years ago he won an epic battle against the U.S. Internal Revenue Service. Overwhelmed by interest and penalties on a $9,000 tax debt, he blew the whistle on agency tactics he believed to be coercive, involving long-term payment plans. Ultimately, IRS officials sided with Junstrom and issued thousands of refunds as a result.

Sen. Bob Graham, also a Democrat, helped Junstrom in that battle.

He is donating his car-sign service to the Nelson campaign as an in-kind contribution. He plans to send five drivers out with signs on their visors for a month, most likely September.

"It's good, grass-roots campaigning," said Mike Henry, Nelson's campaign manager.

CAMPAIGN CALENDAR: County Commission candidate Betty Reed, a Democrat running in District 3, will hold a fundraiser tonight at 7 p.m. at her campaign manager's house at 6407 N 44th St. in Tampa. Call (813) 635-9187 for information.

State Rep. Les Miller, a Democrat running for the Florida Senate in District 21, will sponsor a fish fry Saturday at 1 p.m. at MacFarlane Park in Tampa. The event is free. Call (813) 248-5375 for information.

The Tiger Bay Club of Tampa will host a forum for School Board candidates next Friday, Sept. 1, at noon at the Wyndham Harbour Island Hotel. People wishing to attend must register by Tuesday, by noon. The price, which includes lunch, is $18 for members and $25 for guests. Call (813) 839-0801 to make reservations.

- Times staff writers Kathryn Wexler, David Karp and Marlene Sokol were on Spin Patrol.

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