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Ronda Storms has primary opponent in re-election bid



Republican Paul Phillips, an attorney who lives in Valrico, has filed to run for the Distict 10 state Senate seat. Republican Ronda Storms is seeking re-election to the post after one term in office.

Phillips formerly served as treasurer of the Hillsborough County Republican party. He also interviewed in 2008 to replace Trey Traviesa when he abruptly halted his re-election campaign. The job, though, went to Rachel Burgin. He is now supporting Burgin challenger Marc Johnson in her Republican primary, and said he's running to provide GOP voters with an alternative to Storms. He said he wants to take some his business expertise to Tallahassee and not waste time on laws that infringe on personal liberties -- such as forcing people to wear seatbelts. "When you get too far into social issues you necessarily end up at censorship," Phillips said. More important are such such as property taxes, property insurance and help for business owners.

"No one's really dug in on the insurance issue and no one's really dug in on the property tax issue. That's going to take people who really understand fiinance," he said.

One idea he'd like to revive -- the elimination of property taxes and an increase in sales taxes, an idea espoused by Marco Rubio when he was House speaker. "I thought it was a phenomenal idea," said Phillips, noting that it would save taxpayers millions simply by not having to pay salaries for county property appraisers.

Phillips hosted a fundraiser for Rubio's U.S. Senate run on Friday night at the Palma Ceia country club. He also wrote the resolution for the Hillsboorugh County Republican Party chastising state party leaders for endorsing Charlie Crist in his primary run against Rubio. And he sees some parallels in the push against Rubio and his own entry into politics, saying that when he floated the idea of running against Storms, some people told him he should wait his turn because there were others in line to succeed her.

"The last I heard our Constitution doesn't grant any line for holding office," said Phillips, who teaches a class on philosophy and ethics at St. Petersburg College. "I'm a rabid constitutionalist."

Storms said she welcomes the challenge. "People should run. It helps the process. It helps voters," she said. Anyone who's not happy with the way government is run should throw their hat in the ring, she said. "That's how I got into public service," she said.

Storms also noted that she and Phillips seem to agree on a number of points, including swapping out property taxes for sales taxes.

Janet Zink, Times Staff Writer

[Last modified: Wednesday, May 26, 2010 12:22pm]


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