No one could ever accuse Pat Mulieri of simply following the herd.
Two months ago, she took a stand in the Republican primary, endorsing underdog Bob Robertson from a group of candidates looking to replace her on the Pasco County Commission.
Robertson lost the primary, so that left the door open for Mulieri to choose yet another underdog — one that is not even a Republican.
Although she stopped short of giving her official endorsement, Mulieri has at least thrown her support behind the Democrat in the county commission District 2 race: Erika Remsberg. It also marked the second time Mulieri chose not to go with the race’s frontrunner — at least financially — Republican Mike Moore.
“I met with Erika,” Mulieri told The Laker/Lutz News. “She is bright, knowledgeable and caring. We have quite a bit in common,” including being from New York, and earning master’s degrees from New York-based schools.
Mulieri also liked the fact Remsberg is a teacher, who works as a liaison to homeless children.
“The next years, there will be many exciting changes in Pasco,” Mulieri said. “The new commissioners have to be ready to do the job. She will respond to citizens and work to solve problems. I believe she will keep learning. She may not have all the answers, but will work to resolve issues.”
Remsberg said she was humbled by Mulieri’s backing.
“Pat has told me she is supporting me, and that she and (husband) Jimmy are both voting for me,” Remsberg said. “I spent a couple hours with her at (Pasco County Animal Services) talking about the county, talking about the commission, and county goals.”
Remsberg has received help from another former commissioner as well. Michael Cox is actually the last Democrat to serve on the board until Henry Wilson Jr. ousted him in 2010. Wilson lost his seat in August in an open primary against another Republican, Mike Wells Jr.
While she won’t name names, Remsberg said others from across the aisle are boosting her as well.
“I am getting more support from Republican voters,” she said. “I believe that my bipartisan message is resonating with people from both parties.”
Moore, who out-spent Remsberg more than 19-to-1 in the campaign, said Thursday in a statement that he is honored to receive the support of many government and community leaders, listing nearly 20 of them. They included Pasco County sheriff Chris Nocco, state Sen. Wilton Simpson — who also has made sizable contributions to Moore’s campaign — and groups like the Pasco County Professional Firefighters Local 4420, and West Central Florida Police Benevolent Association.
The differences between Democrat and Republican did not faze Mulieri in deciding to support Remsberg, the retiring commissioner said.
“We may have some philosophical differences, but she will be the people’s commissioner, and that is needed,” Mulieri said. “Someone to listen, find answers, and realize that commissioners work for the citizens. They are our boss.”
This story was updated 10/16/2014, at 6:10 p.m., to include comment from Mike Moore.