Locals act on pandemic
With lax pandemic restrictions by state authorities, native governments in Hillsborough and Pinellas counties enacted comparatively strict necessities for mask-wearing, social distancing and enterprise restrictions.
Pinellas Sheriff Bob Gualtieri and Tampa Mayor Jane Castor have been among the many leaders pushing for restrictions that roused occasional opposition. Each received reward and criticism in consequence, together with nationwide publicity for Castor and pushback towards Gualtieri’s need for seaside restrictions.
Because the pandemic hit its second peak and Gov. Ron DeSantis forbade fining people for violations, the 2 county governments, together with Clearwater, Tampa and St. Petersburg, started fining companies that allowed patrons to violate restrictions.
Dems achieve in Hillsborough regardless of growth business money
Democrats received all three county commissioner seats and elevated their fee majority to 5-2 within the November election regardless of huge spending by the event business to again Republican Sandy Murman towards countywide Commissioner Pat Kemp. Whole spending within the race, $1.5 million or extra, was unprecedented.
Kemp backers stated the victory indicators an historic decline within the business’s native political affect.
In the meantime, Democrats additionally held or took over all of the countywide workplaces besides sheriff; Joe Biden received the county handily; and candidates backed by the Dems received all 4 non-partisan faculty board races.
Republicans maintain congressional seats
The Hillsborough-Polk-Clermont Congressional District 15 was one of many Democrats’ high hopes to flip a GOP-held Florida U.S. Home seat in November — they thought they may unseat Rep. Ross Spano, weakened by an investigation into marketing campaign finance irregularities.
As a substitute, Spano misplaced in a main to metropolis Commissioner Scott Franklin of Lakeland, who held the seat.
In the meantime, Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Longboat Key, simply held off a problem from Margaret Good, and Republican Anna Paulina Luna got here surprisingly near Democratic incumbent Charlie Crist of St. Petersburg, who held his seat by 6 factors.
Dems fail in legislative races
The Tampa Bay space was one of many areas the place state Democrats’ hopes to achieve state legislative seats have been dashed.
As a substitute of gaining seats, they misplaced one in south Pinellas, the place Linda Chaney replaces former Rep. Jennifer Webb, and one other in Sarasota, the place Fiona McFarland beat Drake Buckman for the seat Good left to run towards Buchanan.
In the meantime, Julie Jenkins’ problem to Rep. Jackie Toledo of Tampa failed, as did Jessica Harrington’s try to flip the Hillsborough-Pinellas District 64 seat, even after incumbent Republican Jamie Grant resigned and was changed on the poll by newcomer Traci Koster.
New faces change Hillsborough veterans
Clerk of Courtroom Pat Frank and Tax Collector Doug Belden, two of Hillsborough’s best-known, longest-serving native officeholders, retired and have been changed in contested elections by newcomers to partisan politics — former Faculty Board member Cindy Stuart as clerk and long-time Belden protégé Nancy Millan as tax collector.
Dominoes fall in South St. Pete
Ken Welch’s retirement after 20 years in his Pinellas County fee seat set off a sequence response that altered the political panorama in South St. Petersburg.
State Rep. Wengay Newton and Faculty Board member Rene Flowers each left their seats to run to interchange Welch; Flowers received.
Newton was changed by Michele Rayner, the Legislature’s first overtly LGBTQ girl of shade, whereas newcomer Caprice Edmond changed Flowers after a racially charged race towards Karl Nurse.
Now, Newton is considering a run for mayor — which, sarcastically, might complicate Welch’s deliberate mayoral marketing campaign.
Myers springs a shock
Political newcomer Gwen Myers used a grass-roots marketing campaign to beat well-known veterans Tom Scott and Frank Reddick in Hillsborough County’s minority-heavy District Three fee race.
Pinellas on the knife-edge
Democrats held onto a 4-Three majority of Pinellas commissioners, however simply barely, and Joe Biden received the county — however simply barely — as Pinellas continued to stability on the partisan knife-edge as one of many state’s premier swing counties.
Biden received by .22 %, fewer than 1,300 votes. Democratic commissioners Janet Lengthy and Charlie Justice held their seats with margins of 1.2 % and .7 %, respectively.
Hillsborough GOP roiled by controversial chairman
Hillsborough County Republican Social gathering Chairman Jim Waurishuk continued to create controversy throughout the social gathering by way of incendiary and, to many, offensive social media posts alleging arcane conspiracies, treason and violence by Democrats. Just a few native elected Republicans referred to as for his resignation, however most remained silent.
In the meantime, dissident social gathering activist April Schiff unseated a member of Waurishuk’s internal circle for a key social gathering workplace, and she or he and some former native social gathering donors shaped a separate political committee to spice up GOP candidates.
Waurishuk was re-elected as chairman with out opposition, however social gathering fundraising and membership have declined.
Hillsborough Dems enhance $, membership
File fundraising of greater than $400,000 and growing membership rolls for the Hillsborough Democratic Social gathering served as a springboard for social gathering Chair Ione Townsend to announce a run for state social gathering chairman — a self-described progressive operating towards former Miami Mayor Manny Diaz, who’s thought-about the frontrunner.
Bilirakis, Corley cut up on election fraud
U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis, R-Palm Harbor, happy some constituents and outraged others by supporting the Texas lawyer normal’s last-ditch try to overturn the presidential election outcomes, a lawsuit based mostly on unsupported fraud allegations and what specialists referred to as flimsy authorized arguments.
The U.S. Supreme Courtroom refused to listen to it regardless of Bilirakis and greater than 120 different Republican Congress members signing a authorized transient in help.
In the meantime, Brian Corley, Republican elections supervisor in Pasco County, which is two-thirds of Bilirakis’s district, was some of the outspoken Florida Republicans rejecting the fraud claims, calling them false and damaging to democracy.
Mariano underneath scrutiny
Lengthy-time Pasco County Commissioner Jack Mariano, father of state Rep. Amber Mariano, R-Hudson, is underneath scrutiny by the FBI and IRS in reference to a $600,000 nameless 2015 donation supposed to enhance a county park, and his 2018 buy of Gulf-front property supposed for condominium growth.
Questions have been raised about whether or not the donation was spent as supposed.
Mariano has acknowledged being questioned by the FBI however denies any wrongdoing and says he’s “unaware of the supply of any grievance or the scope of the investigation.”
Contact William March at email@example.com.
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