Gus Bilirakis endorses Stephanie Meyer for Pinellas School Board
Stephanie Meyer seeks to stop the slide in Pinellas County Schools.

Stephanie Meyer
Bilirakis is the latest of several Republicans to offer support.

Stephanie Meyer, a candidate for Pinellas County School Board, landed a high-profile endorsement that could boost support in northern parts of the county, a particularly active voting bloc.

Republican Congressman Gus Bilirakis offered his nod this week for the private school teacher hoping to bring more school choice options to the public school district.

“I’m proud to endorse Stephanie Meyer for Pinellas County School Board,” Bilirakis said. “Her experience in the classroom combined with her commitment to school choice and school safety makes her the clear choice to fight for families on the Pinellas County School Board.”

Bilirakis’ name on a tout sheet is a big win in the race. Bilirakis has represented voters in Florida’s 12th Congressional District, which covers much of north Pinellas, since 2007. Before that his father represented the area in Congress dating back to 1983. The Bilirakis name carries huge weight in the district.

Bilirakis isn’t the first Republican to lend their name to Meyer’s endorsements. While School Board races are nonpartisan, Meyer has several nods from prominent Republicans including House Speaker Designate Chris Sprowls, Reps. Chris Latvala and Nick DiCeglie as well as constitutional office holders Ken Burke, Clerk of the Circuit Court, Charles Thomas, Tax Collector, and Mike Twitty, Property Appraiser. The Pinellas GOP has also endorsed her.

Meyer’s opponent in the District 1 race, Laura Hine, meanwhile, has been scooping up endorsements from Democrats. Those include U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist and outgoing District 7 School Board member Rene Flowers. She’s also picked up nods from typically liberal groups like Equality Florida and the Sierra Club.

But Bilirakis’ endorsements brings with it an air of bipartisanship. Bilirakis has sponsored 24 bills this 116th Congress, most of which include Democratic cosponsors. From 2015 to 2018, Bilirakis authored 27 bills that were signed into law, earning him a “Most Effective Lawmaker in the State of Florida” designation from the Center for Effective Lawmaking at Vanderbilt University.

Meyer formerly worked for Procter & Gamble, but left to pursue a teaching career. Her mother is a retired public school teacher.

Meyer faces Hine Nov. 3 in a runoff election after the two scored the top two spots in the Aug. 18 primary.

Hine secured 44% of the vote to Meyer’s 32%. A third candidate, Tom Topping, finished third in the race with 24% of the vote.

Janelle Irwin Taylor

Janelle Irwin Taylor has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in Tampa Bay since 2003. Most recently, Janelle reported for the Tampa Bay Business Journal. She formerly served as senior reporter for WMNF News. Janelle has a lust for politics and policy. When she’s not bringing you the day’s news, you might find Janelle enjoying nature with her husband, children and two dogs. You can reach Janelle at [email protected].


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