Despite calls from members of his own party to step down, Rob Turner has said from day one of his "sexting" scandal that he would not resign his job as Hillsborough County's Property Appraiser.
But the Republican must now face the most serious challenge to his 16-year career in office, as state Senator Ronda Storms has announced she will oppose him in the primary election for the GOP nomination on Aug. 14.
The sexting scandal is well documented at this point: Turner for years sent what have been described in media accounts as "hard-core pornography" or "lurid texts" to his human resources director, Carolyn Fillippone, a woman he had dated years earlier.
Turner confessed to the Tampa Bay Times' Bill Varian back on May 21 that he had done so, but not on the county's time or with county computers or phones. Turner fired Fillippone at the same time the story was first being reported, alleging that she lied about him in a complaint to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Now Fillippone is suing, claiming wrongful termination.
Turner refuses to back down, and appeared Wednesday night at the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce's annual "Hob Nob" and straw poll, an opportunity for candidates on next month's ballot to mingle and attract voters.
Turner says he's banking on the voters to understand the difference between a personal failing and a professional one. "They are intelligent people who understand that this office demands having a qualified individual. None of the other candidates have any qualifications to even manage the office, so I am the person who has managed it effectively and I intend to continue to do that."