The talk for months amongst Hillsborough County political followers has been why no Republican had stood up to challenge Mark Sharpe in his bid for re-election in countywide District 7, as Sharpe has seemed to be alienating some in the GOP for his enthusiastic support of the one cent sales tax referendum on transportation.
Well, just before the qualifying deadline of noon today, a Republican has gotten into the race. It's Josh Burgin, the former Executive Director of the Hillsborough County Republican Party.
In a statement, Burgin said it was a difficult decision, but said at some point conservatives have to take a stand on increased government spending. "Mark's decision to be the leading proponent for a 14% sales tax increase failed conservatives like me who supported him in the first place," Burgin said.
Sharpe is respected inside the Hillsborough Republican Party, but his stance in supporting the penny sales tax increase for transportation, which would begin the construction for a light rail in the county, has garnered opposition.
As CL has reported, Sharpe debated earlier this year at both a Hillsborough Republican party monthly meeting, and at a Tea Party event, where in both cases his argument for the transit tax garnered fewer votes than for his debate opponent who argued against the plan.