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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Traviesa's aide picked to replace him on ballot



TAMPA -- Hillsborough County Republican officials have settled on Rachel Burgin as the replacement for Trey Traviesa in the House District 56 race.

Burgin, 26, served as Traviesa's legislative aide before he made the sudden decision this week to not seek re-election.

"Everyone is in shock,'' said former Rep. Sandy Murman, who was vying for the spot as well. "It's unfortunate with all these major issues we have that they can't use my experience. But it is what it is.''

Valrico activist Terry Kemple, another of the nine candidates who was vying for Traviesa’s spot, said he fully supports the decision, and will work to help elect Burgin.

“I think they made an excellent choice and I will back Rachel wholeheartedly,’’ said Kemple, president of the conservative Community Issues Council. “It’s time for solid, conservative, smart young people to get in positions of responsibility in our government on local, state and national levels.

Michael Steinberg, chair of the Hillsborough County Democratic Executive Committee, said Burgin is not as qualified as Murman or Proctor to represent the district, which stretches east from Davis Islands, taking in portions of Riverview, Seffner, Brandon, Boyette and Fish Hawk Ranch. Republicans edge out Democrats there 40,600 to 37,600.

"We’re concerned that she’s going to represent the interests of the party bosses and the special interests, not the constituents,'' he said. "People like Sandy Murman and Mark Proctor have shown some independence and a willingness to listen to people on both sides of the aisles.

"I don't think voters would have selected her in a primary election.’’

Reached in Dallas, Traviesa dismissed concerns about Burgin’s youth.

"She knows the district well because she has been responsible for all of the district and legislative service for two years,'' said Traviesa. "She’s very current. She’s very knowledgeable of the current players in the process. She is a lifelong east Hillsborough resident and a grassroots activist.''

-- Alex Leary and Rodney Thrash, Times Staff Writers

[Last modified: Wednesday, September 15, 2010 10:07am]


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