TAMPA - Karen Stanley, chief assistant to Hillsborough County State Attorney Mark Ober, has left her post to run for a circuit judgeship.
Stanley will run against Laura Ward, who specializes in commercial litigation and has been active in charitable legal work.
Stanley, 57, and Ward, 34, will run for the seat being vacated by Judge Sam Pendino, who is retiring.
Stanley's announcement included an endorsement from Ober, who said no one "is more highly respected among prosecutors, defense attorneys, law enforcement and the public." She has also been endorsed by Sheriff David Gee, a campaign aide said.
A Tampa native whose family has lived here for five generations, Stanley holds a law degree from Stetson University and has spent nearly all her career in the state attorney's office, starting in 1989. She says she supervised more than 100 lawyer and 180 support personnel, and has handled more than 100 jury trials.
Ward, also a Tampa native, is the daugher of former Circuit Judge Edward Ward.
A graduate of Davidson College and the University of Michigan law school, Ward works with the DLA Piper firm and heads the pro bono Veterans' Legal Services Clinic at the James A. Haley Veterans' Hospital.
She won this year's Outstanding Young Lawyer award from the Hillsborough County Bar Association.
On her campaign website, www.laurawardfor judge.com, she has posted a list of endorsers including prominent political and legal figures.