Storms thrashes Turner, but many other social conservatives go down in Hillsborough County

In the extremely bitter state Senate District 24 race (the seat that Storms vacated to run for property appraiser), Brandon's Tom Lee crushed House member Rachel Burgin by a 59-41 percent margin. The former state Senate President endured a vicious mailer alluding to a years-old divorce, and even though the district is considered extremely conservative, Burgin's attempt to play the family values card backfired on her, big time.


Perhaps if she was running against a Democrat it might have worked. But Lee "stood his ground" as Jeb Bush and Pam Bondi espoused in those effective television ads extolling his conservative bona fides. That had to go a long way in soothing some of those voters about Lee.


Speaking of social conservatives going down, how about the resurrection of Johnny Byrd?


That didn't happen Tuesday night, as the former Speaker of the House got smoked in his attempt to become a judge, losing out to Mark Wolfe 63-37 percent in the Circuit Judge, 13th Circuit Group 14 race.


Another conservative who lost his bid to become a judge was John Grant III, who lost to Ann Ober 64-36 percent in the County Court Judge Group 3 race.


You've got to give the chutzpah award of the night to the son of the former state Senator John Grant. Grant III had been busted three times for driving under the influence.


A big time economic conservative is Sharon Calvert, a virulent critic of light and high-speed rail who decided to become the first member of the local Tea Party movement to run for higher office since that activist movement erupted in the wake of President Obama's election three years ago. Calvert was beaten soundly in her bid for Hillsborough County Commissioner Victor Crist's District 2 seat, 63-37 percent.


In the race to see which Republican will take on Democrat Kevin Beckner on the Hillsborough County Commission this fall, Margaret Iuculano defeated her more moderate opponent, Don Kruse, 52-48 percent in one of Hillsborough's closest elections.


That was the same margin of victory in one of the few competitive Democrat-on-Democrat races in Hillsborough, that being for Supervisor of Elections. Craig Latimer is not the incumbent - that would be his boss, the retiring Earl Lennard. But having been in that office the past four years, Latimer was considered the favorite even though he was going up against the much better known quantity in former County Commissioner and Tampa City Councilman Thomas Scott, who put up a valiant effort, coming up just a couple of thousand votes short (2,387 votes to be precise as I write this).


In the Hillsborough school board races, yet another social conservative, the Muslim fearing Terry Kemple, finished a distant second in the District 7 race, trailing incumbent Carol Kurdell, 36-19%. Michael Weston came in a decent third, garnering 17 percent of the vote. (However, because Kurdell finished without a majority of the vote, she will face Temple in a runoff in November).


The only incumbent who went down to defeat on the board was the veteran Jack Lamb, losing out to the hard-working Cindy Stuart 57-42 percent. Stuart was obviously boosted by the endorsement she garnered from the Times..


And in the two races we were watching with keen interest in Pinellas County, first-year sheriff Bob Gaultieri defeated former sheriff Everett Rice, and Jeff Brandes looks like he'll beat Jim Frishe in that intense race in the former Jack Latvala district that contains both Hillsborough and Pinellas counties.


We write "looks like" because very few precincts are in on that race, because of a computer problem, according to Pinellas Supervisor of Elections Deb Clark.

Ronda Storms thrashing of incumbent Property Appraiser Rob Turner Tuesday night presents potentially one of the most interesting races this November, where she will now take on former state Representative Bob Henriquez in a race that Hillsborough Democrats think they can win.

For Rob Turner, the election results were the climax of a humiliating sequence of events that ultimately cost him his job. That sequence burst into the public consciousness on May 21, when the Tampa Bay Times reported that he had fired the agency's Human Resources director after he admitted that he had exchanged porn texts and emails for a number of years with her, including after he was married.

By the end of that week then state Senator Storms was filing her paperwork to qualify for the race at the Supervisor of Elections office on Falkenberg Road, and Turner's 16-year career as a relatively low key executive would never be the same. A series of other negative reports about his job duties didn't help either.

Democrat Bob Henriquez qualified to run for property appraiser at virtually the same time as Storms did. Unlike Storms, he didn't scold Turner about his transgressions. Storms said as a woman Turner had disrespected all women in the county, and by the 70-30 percent margin she won by on Tuesday night, who's to argue otherwise?

However, Storms was one of the few socially conservative Republicans who did win in Hillsborough on primary night.

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