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Doug Bakke drops Hillsborough Clerk bid

His departure leaves Kevin Beckner running unopposed.

Doug Bakke is no longer running for Hillsborough County Clerk of the Court.

The Supervisor of Elections website now shows Bakke as withdrawn from the race.

Bakke’s departure from the race leaves former Hillsborough County Commissioner Kevin Beckner as the only active candidate.

“Been contemplating it for awhile now after reality of time commitment set in,” Bakke wrote in an email about his departure. “Campaigning isn’t in my blood and I’d rather focus on family.”

Bakke said he plans to refund donors before paying back the $25,000 loan he give his campaign when he launched in November. Bakke raised about $35,000 and spent a little over $9,000 before ending his campaign, meaning he will be able to fully refund all of his donors and still repay a decent chunk of his own loan.

Bakke’s departure comes as a bit of a surprise. As a Clerk’s office veteran he could have ran a competitive campaign against Beckner despite the former elected official’s broad name recognition.

Beckner would have likely faced some criticism in the race over his bid for the same seat four years ago, when he ran a negative campaign against incumbent Pat Frank.

Meanwhile, Bakke had institutional experience to tout.

Bakke is the current chief deputy to Frank and would have likely scored her endorsement as her eventual successor.

Bakke has worked at the Clerk’s office since 1994. Before that he served four years active duty with the U.S. Marine Corps.

Bakke began his career with the Clerk’s office as a night-shift file clerk but worked his way up to an executive-level position.

As Chief Operating Officer and Chief Deputy Clerk, Bakke oversees the largest operational area in the agency, supervising more than 400 employees and managing a $30 million budget.

Hillsborough County Commissioner Sandy Murman is also filed for the race but isn’t expected to actually seek the seat, despite having raised nearly $200,000.

For his part, Beckner said he’s not going to let the latest revelation deter him from running an active campaign.

“We will continue to campaign at the same pace we have been; building a diverse coalition of supporters around Hillsborough County and the region,” Beckner said in a statement. “We have a lot of work to do and my campaign is prepared to compete countywide with the resources and infrastructure required to win.”

Janelle Irwin Taylor has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. Most recently, Janelle reported for the Tampa Bay Business Journal. She formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for Patch.com and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a die-hard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics, including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and contentious issues surrounding transit. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also a devoted wife and mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder.

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