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Democrats, Parrotheads sing as one at Gore campaign stop

By Times staff writer

© St. Petersburg Times, published October 31, 2000


When singer-songwriter Jimmy Buffett came to town in December, loyal Parrotheads sold out his Ice Palace show.

Wednesday, you can see Buffett for free. And hey, you might want to stick around to see that Al Gore fella, too.

A devoted Democrat and environmentalist, Buffett will play at a campaign rally for presidential candidate Gore on Wednesday afternoon in Lykes Gaslight Park in downtown Tampa. The event is free and open to anyone with a ticket, which can be picked up at Democratic Party offices in Hillsborough or Pinellas from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. In Tampa, the offices are located at 2319 Columbus Drive. In Pinellas, the offices are in the Clearwater Mall near Burdines.

"Jimmy Buffett's been doing this for the Democratic Party for years," said Mike Scionti, chairman of the Hillsborough Democratic Party. "He did it twice for Lawton Chiles."

Scionti said organizers are expecting up to 20,000 people at the 3 p.m. event, based on early interest.

"Phones at the party headquarters have been ringing off the hook all day," he said.

"Buffett and Al Gore go way back," said Liz Lubo, spokeswoman for the Gore campaign in Florida. "This isn't the first time he's done an event with the vice president. They have a long-standing relationship."

Lubo said Gore starts his day in Orlando in a relatively staid manner, with a policy speech. Then it's on to Tampa Bay with Tipper, his wife, for the rally with Buffett. For security reasons, one must have a ticket to enter the park, which will be gated for the event, organizers said.

Buffett will be followed three days later by rock legend Steven Stills, formerly of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. Stills, who attended high school in Tampa, will play Saturday at noon at a Democratic rally in Lowry Park that will also feature a Dixieland jazz band, hot dogs, ice cream and popcorn, all for free, Scionti said.

So what's with all the rock star Democrats?

"Democrats are cool people," Scionti joked. "We're very "in.' "

CALL HIM ENTREPRENEUR: Joe Redner has been described many ways in these pages over the years:

Adult entertainment impresario, nude club czar, head honcho of nude bars, strip-club magnate, and uncrowned strip club king of Tampa.

Now, the owner of the well-known Mons Venus wants to be described in a different way:

Successful entrepreneur.

The change comes as Redner has taken on another yet another identity: County Commission candidate.

Redner, a Libertarian, will face incumbent Tom Scott, a Democrat, for the District 3 seat in next week's election. Since the primary, Redner's supporters have asked Spin Patrol to stop describing Redner as a nude club owner.

"The hurdle we have to overcome is the media perception of Joe Redner," said campaign director Mark Perry.

Besides running nude clubs, Perry points out, Redner owns a health and fitness club in Hyde Park, rents space to the Internal Revenue Service and operates a film production company. The media's focus on Redner's nude club business has hurt him, Perry said.

"If I could have gotten one thing from the media, it would have made a difference," said Perry, sounding as though Redner had already lost. "If they could have been fair, the campaign would have looked a bit different."

Maybe. But Spin Patrol thinks you should call a nude club king a nude club king. Redner made his name by fighting City Hall over adult use ordinances, and he's the best known and most successful nude club owner in Tampa.

Despite his other businesses, most of his money still comes from the Mons, according to Redner's financial disclosure statement. He earned about $1.5-million from the club in 1999, accounting for 87 percent of his income.

* * *

LESS IS NOT MORE: More than 60,000 campaign fliers had come off the presses before Les Miller saw the mistake.

There was an extra "S," which made his first name Less. As opposed to more.

The cost of printing being what it is, the state Senate candidate had to figure out a way to salvage the mailing.

So, Miller and the printer came up with a compromise: A hole punch would be employed to obliterate the offending item.

"The only way they could straighten it out was to punch out the last "S,' " said Miller, who is being forced from his position as state House minority leader by term limits.

Punch it out they did to save the $2,870 cost of reprinting. Then, they saw the second mistake.

The campaign mailer left off the tag line that tells you it's a paid political advertisement from a candidate. "It was inadvertently left off, but I accept full responsibility for it as the candidate," said Miller, a Tampa Democrat who is running for the Senate seat Democrat Jim Hargrett Jr. held, which covers parts of Tampa and St. Petersburg. "We noticed it after it went out."

The black-and-green mailer doesn't have the ubiquitous union "bug," the logo signifying the work was done in a union shop -- standard procedure for Democratic candidates who have long counted on union support. Another mistake?

No, Miller said. Although his other campaign printing jobs have been done in union shops, he decided to spread the work among other important constituents.

"Being a minority, we wanted to use a minority printer," said Miller, who added that the work was done by a printer in Senate District 21. "I've gotten union endorsements, and they know I will be there for them when I am in the Senate as I have been since I was first elected."

* * *

SIGNS ARE CROSSED: Mark Ober, Republican candidate for state attorney, wishes people would stop hijacking his campaign signs. If only Al Gore or Joseph Lieberman -- maybe even one of their underlings -- had given his office a courtesy jingle before volunteers started stapling Gore-Lieberman signs to leftover stake-space on his signs. Ober still would have said no, as he would to anyone, but it's nice to be asked.

"I think it's quite rude to do that without my consent," Ober said.

On Wednesday, Hillsborough Clerk of Circuit Court Richard Ake says he spotted the man who is trying to take his job, Republican candidate Bart Siegel, attaching his signs to Ober's in a parking lot across from the convention center.

"It kind of presents the image that there's a relationship between the two people, and that's not true," said Ake. "You would like to have everyone else's friends, but you don't want everyone else's enemies."

Siegel says he thought his mother-in-law had gotten Ober's permission to "piggyback" on his signage.

"If there's another Republican who has a frame up, I'll piggyback theirs, and they'll piggyback mine," Siegel says, provided he asks permission from the property owner.

Ober wants to run as his own man. He says he had to say no when Siegel asked permission to hang a giant "Vote Smart, Vote for Bart" balloon from Ober's campaign headquarters.

- Times staff writers Angela Moore, Alicia Caldwell, David Karp and Christopher Goffard were on Spin Patrol.

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