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Hibbard played a big role in GOP victories in Clearwater last week, and now he’s got his eye on the Commission.

Fresh off a huge victory in Clearwater’s municipal election, former Mayor Frank Hibbard is shifting his weight to a new candidate.

Hibbard has endorsed Chris Scherer in the race for Pinellas County Commission, District 1. Scherer, a Republican, is running for the seat currently held by Democrat Janet Long. Long is not seeking re-election.

Scherer faces Democratic Indian Rocks Beach Mayor Cookie Kennedy as he seeks to flip the seat to GOP control.

“Chris Scherer is a local business owner who understands how the decisions made by our elected leaders have a direct impact on our economy and way of life,” Hibbard said.

“Our cities thrive when our residents and businesses are not held back by useless regulation and increasing taxes. Scherer knows this, and I trust he will use his ‘can do’ attitude on the Pinellas County Commission to protect jobs and opportunity for everyone. I am proud to endorse his campaign.”

Hibbard resigned as Mayor a year ago, citing frustration over what was then a $90 million project to build a new City Hall. Hibbard viewed the proposed expenditure as wasteful.

He went on to play heavily in this year’s mayoral and City Council elections, backing winning horses in two of the three races. Hibbard backed Bruce Rector for Mayor and likely played a big role in his victory.

Hibbard filed an ethics complaint against Rector’s opponent, Kathleen Beckman, who served on Council with Hibbard when he was Mayor. Hibbard further sent correspondence to Clearwater voters lamenting Beckman’s role in the City Hall project.

He also backed Mike Mannino for the City Council seat to replace Beckman. Hibbard endorsed Mike Mastruserio in the other City Council race, but a different conservative, Ryan Cottonwent on to win that race and strip the seat from the incumbent Democrats backed, Mark Bunker.

Despite missing the trifecta, Hibbard’s support in the race, along with other prominent Republicans, was likely instrumental in what was a grand slam for the GOP in Clearwater last week.

Now, he’s shifting that weight to the GOP’s next target, the Pinellas County Commission, with support for the Republican in the open race.

“It is an honor to be endorsed by Mayor Hibbard,” Scherer said. “Under Hibbard’s leadership, Clearwater has thrived not only as a tourism engine but also as a permanent destination for businesses and families who share our vision of economic prosperity through conservative policymaking. I look forward to continuing our work together.”

The GOP has been eyeing Long’s seat for years, coming within striking distance four years ago, but narrowly missing the chance to flip her seat. Long defeated Republican former Rep. Larry Ahern in that race by just 1 percentage point.

But two years later, in the 2022 Midterms, Republicans successfully won control of the Commission. They have an opportunity this year to flip two more seats — Long’s and Commissioner Charlie Justice’s District 3.

Scherer graduated from Texas A&M University with a Bachelor’s degree in finance before relocating to Pinellas County and obtaining his Class-A Contractors and Real Estate Brokerage licenses. Scherer founded Scherer Development in 1994, a company that provides clients with development services ranging from site selection and design to construction, leasing and property management.

Scherer said he’s running “to protect and improve what makes Pinellas special,” which includes a platform of preserving the environment; lowering taxes; enacting term limits; supporting law enforcement; and securing elections.

Scherer’s father was a U.S. Naval Captain who served in Vietnam. Scherer said he is an avid volunteer, including at St. Vincent DePaul. He also served from 2010 to 2016 on the St. Pete Development Review Commission.

Scherer most recently earned an endorsement from Brian Scott, the incumbent County Commissioner who flipped control to the GOP by defeating former board member Pat Gerard.

Scherer has also earned support from the Suncoast Police Benevolent Association; former Pinellas County Sheriff Jim CoatsSen. Nick DiCeglie; former Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran; Rep. Bernie Jacques; Clearwater interim Mayor Brian Aungst Sr.Belleair Bluffs Mayor Chris Arbutine Sr.; former Sen. Jeff Brandes; former St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker; former St. Petersburg City Council member Robert Blackmon; and Pasco County Commissioner Kathryn Starkey.

Scherer has more than doubled Kennedy in fundraising for the race so far, with more than $155,000 raised between his official campaign and affiliated political committee, Friends of Chris Scherer. Kennedy’s campaign has matched Scherer’s — both have raised about $84,000 — but she doesn’t have an affiliated political committee boosting her spending power.