Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Former aide to Rep. Traviesa to replace him on ballot

TAMPA — Hillsborough County Republicans on Friday tapped a 26-year-old Dover woman who just completed a summer internship at the White House to replace Trey Traviesa in the House District 56 race.

Rachel Burgin had been Traviesa's legislative aide before he made the sudden decision this week to not seek re-election. She is already considered the favorite to win, because the lone opponent is Democrat Lewis Larricchia, a political unknown.

But her rapid ascent to become a state House contender jolted the Republican establishment and Democrats, too.

Among the nine candidates vetted Friday during five hours of interviews at the Alfano Conference & Banquet Center were former state Rep. Sandy Murman, Traviesa's predecessor, and Mark Proctor, an eastern Hillsborough political consultant and real estate broker.

Burgin, on the other hand, is still working toward a bachelor of science in Christian leadership and biblical studies from Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. And she's trying to establish permanent residency in the district.

"Everyone is in shock," said Murman, who represented District 56 for eight years until term limits forced her out of office in 2004. "It's unfortunate with all these major issues we have that they can't use my experience. But it is what it is."

Michael Steinberg, chair of the Hillsborough County Democratic Executive Committee, said she 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 aisle.''

Traviesa waited until after the June 21 qualifying deadline to drop out of the race, so the task of choosing a replacement fell to a three-person committee of local GOP officials. Chairman David Storck and state Committeewoman Carol Carter were the two who made the decision. The third member, A.J. Matthews, was out of the country.

Carter defended Burgin in an interview, calling her "a bright, bright woman" who "is from the heart of that district, knows that district, has the values of the district." The choice, she said, came down to experience and potential.

Burgin was a secretarial aide for Hillsborough County Commissioner Brian Blair from 2005 to 2006. Her brother Josh, who lost a 2004 state house bid in District 62, served in the same role.

Burgin's work with Blair caught the eye of Traviesa, who hired her away in 2006. After the last legislative session, she moved to Washington D.C. for three months for a summer internship at the White House's Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives. She returned from that program on Thursday.

"She's been to Tallahassee, she knows the process, she knows how to get bills submitted," Carter said. "Sandy Murman was a great legislator. She's a friend. However, we're looking to the future and we believe that Rachel will be able to sustain this seat after this election and will be there in 2010 and will not have a lot of opposition."

And, Carter said, Traviesa highly recommended her.

Burgin, reached by telephone Friday, said she knows she doesn't look like the average political candidate, "but I honestly think that people don't necessarily identify with the average politician."

She said she's intimately familiar with District 56 because, for three years she has answered its taxpayers' phone calls, fielded complaints, heard their concerns.

She said she shares Traviesa's conservative views on abortion, which was a central focus of his legislative tenure.

One of her big passions, she said, is "nonprofit faith-based'' organizations, and she would work to help them.

"This district believes in family, business and education," she said. "I have a passion for this community."

Times staff writer Alex Leary contributed to this report. Rodney Thrash can be reached at rthrash@sptimes.com or (813) 269-5303.

Former aide to Rep. Traviesa to replace him on ballot 08/16/08 [Last modified: Monday, August 18, 2008 12:47pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Jones: Bucs need success to get national respect

    Bucs

    Tampa Bay Times columnist Tom Jones offers up his Two Cents on the world of sports.

    No respect

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Dirk Koetter walks the field during the second day of mandatory minicamp at One Buccaneer Place in Tampa, Fla., on Wednesday, June 14, 2017. LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times
  2. Hopes fade after landslide destroys Chinese village (w/video)

    World

    Crews searching through the night in the rubble left by a landslide that buried a mountain village under tons of soil and rocks in southwestern China found 15 bodies, but more than 110 more people remained missing.

    Vehicles and people line a road leading to the site of a landslide in Xinmo village in Mao County on Saturday in southwestern China’s Sichuan Province. More than 100 people remained missing after the village was buried under tons of rocks and soil.
  3. Rookie Jake Faria dissatisfied with performance in Rays' loss to Orioles

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The rookie pitcher walked to his locker Saturday after tossing the fourth quality start in as many tries to begin his career. He held the potent Orioles bats to three runs and for six innings gave his team a chance to win.

    Orioles third baseman Manny Machado tags out the Rays’ Mallex Smith at third after a rundown in the first inning.
  4. Thousands converge in two St. Pete locations celebrating LGBT rights

    Human Interest

    ST. PETERSBURG — Tom Rockhill didn't know what to expect Saturday, but by noon people were knocking on the door of his bar Right Around the Corner in Grand Central.

    (From left to right) Emma Chalut 18, gets a rainbow sticker on her cheek from her sister Ellie, 15 both of Jacksonville before the annual St. Pete Pride parade in downtown St. Petersburg on Saturday. This year the route was changed from the Grand Central and Kenwood area to Bayshore Drive.
[EVE EDELHEIT   |   Times]
  5. Retired Florida Supreme Court Justice Parker Lee McDonald dies

    TALLAHASSEE — A former Florida Supreme Court justice, who wrote a decision that prevented lawyers from excluding jurors because of their race, has died.

    Former Florida Supreme Court Justice Parker Lee McDonald died Saturday, the court said in a statement. He was 93.