Tea Party of Florida backs Higginbotham, Stacy White & Paula Meckley in Hillsborough races

Although the Tea Party is considered more of a movement than an actual political party, there is an official Tea Party of Florida, and today they announced their endorsements in two GOP primary races for Hillsborough County Commission, as well as making a selection in the one countywide school board race.

The group likes Al Higginbotham in the Board of County Commissioners District 7 race (they incorrectly list it as District 6 in their press release), Stacy White in the District 4 race, and Paula Meckley in the District 6 school board contest.

“These three outstanding candidates are the Tea Party choices for the public office they seek because, unlike their opponents, they strongly support less taxes, less government and more individual freedom for Hillsborough County voters,” stated John Ferentinos, State Chairman of the Tea Party of Florida.

Higginbotham is considered a heavy favorite to advance in the primary later this month. He's being challenged by private equity consultant Tim Schock, beauty school proprietor and previous county commission candidate Don Kruse, and businesswoman Robin Lester. He's also going to be the favorite against who comes out of the Pat Kemp-Mark Nash race in the Democratic primary, if only because of his considerable fundraising advantage (both Democrats only got into the race in the past few months).

It shouldn't be a surprise that White is the choice in the District 4 BOCC race, which encompasses eastern Hillsborough County. Though businesswoman Janet Dougherty is considered by conventional wisdom to be the leading contender, this is eastern Hillsborough, by far the most conservative quadrant of the four district county seats. And White, elected to the school board in 2010, is definitely a small government guy. He recently led the opposition on the board to a proposal by April Griffin to hire an outside auditor, saying the idea reeked of excessive government regulations.  

Recently retired Tampa Police Department Detective Rick Cochran is the other Republican in the primary, but his bona fides as a true conservative have been assailed in recent weeks on social media, in particular for his avowed support of Democrat Alex Sink in the 2010 gubernatorial election.

Paula Meckley, meanwhile, has been endorsed by the Tampa Tribune in the countywide district 6 race, and has definitely been impressive on the stump (where there are a number of equally qualified candidates). Whether the Tea Party of Florida endorsement will help or hurt her chances remains to be seen.

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