House District 58 candidate Hunter Chamberlin- a kinder, gentler Republican?

Next Tuesday, citizens in House District 58 will vote between Democrat Janet Cruz and Republican Hunter Chamberlin.  The winner should be seated nearly immediately, as the new legislative session begins the following week.

There was much coverage in the local media with the very tight (and at times nasty) battle for the Democratic nomination to run between Cruz and Hillsborough County Democratic Executive Committee Chair Pat Kemp (Cruz won the election by just 58 votes).

But there was very little written about the Republican race, and to the extent it was, it was about Jackie Rojas-Quinones, who received the endorsements from every local paper that offers them.

But instead, it was little known attorney Hunter Chamberlin who won the GOP primary.  He remains an underdog against Cruz, and again is getting no love from the local media, who have uniformly endorsed Cruz in this race.

Last Tuesday night at the Hillsborough County Republican Executive Committee's monthly meeting, CL caught up with Chamberlin, who said he was working hard knocking on doors and trying to get the word out for his campaign.

He said he thinks its an advantage that he lives in the district (an issue that Kemp brought out in her primary against Cruz), but said he didn't want to revisit some of the other published allegations that surfaced against her in January.

"I’m not interested in talking negative politics about her," he said. "I have pointed out that she doesn’t live in the district.  As far as I know, she hasn’t lived in the district for 20 something years, her name isn’t Janet Cruz, it’s really Janet Rifkin, if that’s negative campaigning, maybe it is, maybe it isn’t, I’ve pointed that out.  But I’m not interested in negative campaigning, I’m not interested in talking about how bad she is, I’m interested in talking about what I think I can do and why I’m the better candidate.”

Chamberlin is not a supporter of either the high speed rail project that will be coming to Tampa, nor the light rail proposal that his fellow Republicans voted down at their meeting.

"I think it’s  a very bad idea (light rail) I don’t think it’s something that we can afford to do at the moment , we definitely need to improve the public transportation, but I don’t think it needs to be done from Tampa to Orlando, but within the metro area Tampa bay area and I don’t think trains are the answer.  I think we need to buy more buses , advertise the bus routes more, make people more aware on where to catch a bus."

When asked what elected officials he admires, Chamberlin revealed his own ideology, saying he applauded the recent electoral successes of Scott Brown in Massachusetts, Chris Christie in New Jersey and Bob McDonnell in Virginia.

He says that those newly elected Republicans "cater to a more sort of Libertarian independence streak of the Republican Party, and I quite frankly that that's something that the Republican Party needs to do a lot more of, is cater to folks who have a bit more of a Libertarian perspective like I do."

He calls himself a fiscal conservative, but says " I think sometimes that the GOP alienates individuals that are moderate Democrats or independents that share Republican conservative values economically, but are turned off by  some of the more further right positions. "He said an example of that is the support he's receiving from his neighbors who are Democrats and don't agree with a lot of social issues, "but are  supporting my campaign because their focus is economics, jobs and lowering taxes."

But rest assured, he also has high remarks for the GOP's patron saint, Ronald Reagan.  Chamberlin bemoans the lack of leaders in the Republican Party right now, and says the party's lacked such a leader since Reagan left the national stage over two decades ago.

The House District 58 election, which includes Seminole Heights, West Tampa and Town N Country and Egypt Lake in Hillsborough County, takes place next Tuesday.

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