Longtime political operative Vito Sheeley to challenge Wengay Newton in District 70
Vito Sheeley, a longtime political aide, announced Monday he intends to challenge State Rep. Wengay Newton in the Democratic primary in a move that can be seen as political wake from the St. Petersburg’s full-throttle mayoral battle.
A primary challenge for Newton in District 70, which covers parts of Pinellas, Hillsborough, Manatee and Sarasota counties, wasn’t unexpected after the former St. Petersburg City Council member endorsed Republican Rick Baker for mayor.
Newton had clashed for years on council with Mayor Rick Kriseman.
When Newton endorsed Baker in May, local Democratic officials were abuzz on social media about possible challenges to Newton, who won his first term in November with 76 percent of the vote after besting two other Democrats in the primary.
Sheeley, 44, was a longtime aide for U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, a Tampa Democrat, and worked for Democrat Charlie Crist’s successfull 2016 win over U.S. Rep. David Jolly.
Most recently, Sheeley has been a paid consultant in Kriseman’s campaign.
The mayoral primary is Aug. 29. It’s another year after that before the Newton-Sheeley and whoever else decides to jump in takes place.