State shuts down, Hillsborough still counting
TAMPA -- About 1:45 a.m. today, Tallahassee phoned Hillsborough County's Supervisor of Elections office to say they were shutting down for the night.
No such break in Hillsborough as the count continued. By 2:15 a.m., with 369 of the county's 384 precincts reporting, County Judge James Dominguez, who sits on the canvassing board, said it would be another two hours before all precincts and early voting ballots are tallied.
By now, only Dominguez and the board's two other members, bleary-eyed county commissioners Kevin White and Rose Ferlita, are fielding questions from reporters. The canvassing board doesn't oversee the Supervisor of Elections, but no one from the office is speaking to reporters.
After a five-minute presentation to reporters late last night, Supervisor of Elections Buddy Johnson refused to answer questions about the slow pace of the vote tabulations, which lagged behind counties of comparable size.
In the next three hours after his abrupt news conference, Johnson remained in an office with the door closed. An elections office employee, Cesar Gonzmart, said Johnson was in a meeting and was not to be bothered. He said he would tell Johnson that reporters wanted to speak to him about the status of the results.
Meanwhile, as results trickled in, Johnson widened his narrow lead over Phyllis Busansky in the race for Supervisor of Elections. He had a lead of 5,000 votes by 2:30 a.m., but a Busansky volunteer said her campaign remained upbeat because large precincts with Democratic voters had yet to be counted.
Times staff writer