Is he nuts?!!? Democrat Mark Nash says he can win in the most conservative part of Hillsborough County

"Anybody who knows me knows that I?ve never taken easy paths to ever accomplish anything," says the Brandon native, who then rolled off a variety of things he's done in his life that weren't easy, such as picking strawberries and tomatoes, and working in a steel mill while attending college. "Anything worthwhile takes a great deal of work." But Nash believes that once the community gets to know him and what he brings to the conversation, and after "we understand a lot more about my opponent than we do right now," he thinks it will be a very "easy decision for Eastern Hillsborough voters" to choose him, not elaborating on what he means about Commissioner Higginbotham.

"If we're really going to change the sad state of affairs that we're in right now, we've got to change the people who are having the conversation, and that's really the only way you're going to change the results. I'm going to work for the people in Hillsborough County, unlike other public officials who do what they do and the rest of us end up getting nowhere," he says.

Nash grew up in a Republican household and insists he will have support from some "diehard conservatives." He lists the three main pillars of his candidacy as 1) improving economic opportunity for everyone in the community, 2) growth management and 3) transportation.

"As a whole," he contends, there's been poor leadership on the Board of County Commissioners. "There are a few bright spots, but collectively this board has completely failed the people of this county," Nash says, mentioning the various scandals regarding county attorney Renee Lee, county administrator Pat Bean and former commissioner Kevin White in recent years. Last week White began serving time in a federal prison in Georgia after being found guilty of corruption while serving on the Public Transportation Commission.

Several times in his conversation with CL, Nash referred to a "tipping point" in terms of where the county is right now when it comes to the above topics.

In addition to working with Saul-Sena, Nash also worked on the political campaigns of school board hopeful April Griffin and county commissioner Kevin Beckner. (Both won.) Nash later ended up working for a year and a half as an aide in Beckner's office. The longest professional stint of his life was for the Gillette Company, doing sales, marketing and management all over the Midwest and the South.

Interestingly, right before the qualifying deadline, a little-known independent candidate named Joy Green also qualified for the race. She was unavailable for comment.

Up until late last week, it appeared that all three Republicans up for re-election to the Hillsborough County Commission — Sandy Murman, Victor Crist and Al Higginbotham — were going to run unopposed by a Democrat this fall, though Crist is facing a primary battle from Tea Party activist Sharon Calvert.

But with a day to spare before the deadline to qualify, a lone Democrat came out of the catacombs to challenge Al Higginbotham in the District 4 Eastern Hillsborough seat. It's Mark Nash, whose most recent participation in the political scene was as a strategist for Linda Saul-Sena during her unsuccessful run for county commission against Ken Hagan in 2010.

Given the fact that District 4 is as conservative as it gets, CL asked the 50-year-old Nash, who lives in Lithia and whose family roots go deep in Florida, if he thinks he has a realistic shot at knocking out the GOP incumbent (who, by the way, has already raised over $100,000 in the contest).

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