Power broker Ralph Hughes dead at 77
TAMPA -- Ralph Hughes, one of the Tampa Bay area's most influential power brokers, has died. He was 77.
For years, his contributions to conservative causes, from Jeb Bush to Hillsborough County commissioners, made him a force in local and state politics. He was a major contributor to commissioners Brian Blair and Jim Norman and state Sen. Ronda Storms.
"He was the father of conservatism in Hillsborough County," former Hillsborough County commissioner Joe Chillura said this morning. "He had more to do with the complexion of the commission becoming conservative than any other individual."
Hughes did so by making large contributions to candidates he agreed with, or even recruited. He helped turn back a brief period in the 1990s when the board was dominated by members with more of an environmentalist bent.
A former amateur boxer, Hughes made his fortune in precast materials for construction. The funeral and visitation are set for tomorrow, but are private.
Times staff writer
[Mack Goethe, Times files]