Saturday, December 16, 2017
Politics

Bob Henriquez defeats Ronda Storms for Hillsborough property appraiser

TAMPA — Former Democratic state Rep. Bob Henriquez asked voters to make a hiring decision rather than a political one in choosing the next Hillsborough County property appraiser.

Voters offered the job to Henriquez over Republican state Sen. Ronda Storms, with all precincts reporting Tuesday.

Henriquez won by a commanding 52-43 percent over Storms, who had quit an uncontested re-election bid for the Senate to run for the office stained by current appraiser Rob Turner's porn scandal.

While Storms easily knocked off Turner in the Republican primary, her success in that contest failed to carry over to the general election.

Henriquez, 48, attributed the victory to a late surge of support from across the political spectrum.

"To be very honest with you, this whole process has been very humbling," Henriquez said. "I'm humbled and ready to go."

Just three months ago, Storms appeared to be riding a wave into the office. She had trounced Turner, a 16-year incumbent, taking 70 percent of the vote in a low-turnout primary. She enjoys tremendous name recognition as a sitting officeholder and former Hillsborough County commissioner who is quick with a colorful quote, particularly in pushing her socially conservative agenda.

But she failed to win any of the major endorsements leading into the general election and her campaign donations slowed to a trickle just as those to the Henriquez campaign surged.

"When you looked behind the numbers (behind her name recognition) you found it was hard for her move the needle," Henriquez said, talking about her ability to build on her base and the outrage generated by Turner.

Storms, 47, offered only a brief statement by a text message late Tuesday.

"Congratulations to my opponent," she wrote. "He won decisively."

This will be the first time in 14 years Storms has not been in elected office. She served six years in the state Senate after eight years on the Hillsborough County Commission.

The appraiser sets values for all properties in Hillsborough County for the purposes of determining their tax bills. The office has roughly 130 employees and an $11 million budget. The property appraiser serves a four-year term for a job that pays $153,052.

Turner appeared headed to an easy fifth term, facing challenges from two little-known candidates running without party affiliation, Rob Townsend and James DeMio, who got few votes Tuesday.

Then the Tampa Bay Times revealed in May that Turner had sent dozens of pornographic emails to his human resources director. Turner once dated the woman, Carolyn Filippone, while she worked in his office and subsequently fired her as the Times was preparing a story about her sexual harassment complaint against him.

Filippone is now suing the office for wrongful termination.

Within days of the revelations, Storms and Henriquez announced their intention to run for the office. Storms campaigned against Turner in the Republican primary largely by publicizing newspaper headlines about the scandal.

Things settled down after the primary. Henriquez, who faced no challengers from his own party, tried successfully to make the campaign a contrast of resumes. A former state legislator, he served eight years in the House before leaving due to term limits in 2006.

He is best known as the head football coach for Tampa Catholic High School, but had supervised the Pinellas and Pasco county regional office of the state Department of Children and Families for three years ending in 2011. He has worked as a planner and in various roles with private-sector engineering firms.

At a campaign celebration Tuesday, a supporter handed Henriquez a Halloween-style prop broom as a joke, though he quickly set it aside.

"I want to say how much I respect Sen. Storms' service," he said by phone later. "I'm sure she's nowhere near being out of this arena."

Comments
Female congressional candidate leaves race after sexual harassment allegations resurface

Female congressional candidate leaves race after sexual harassment allegations resurface

A Democratic candidate hoping to flip a hotly contested congressional seat in Kansas has dropped out of the race after allegations that she sexually harassed a male subordinate resurfaced amid her campaign.Andrea Ramsey, 57, who was running to unseat...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Romano: Some bullies survive beyond the schoolyard

Romano: Some bullies survive beyond the schoolyard

Sometime soon, members of the Florida House will be asked to consider a potential solution for bullying in public schools. Itís a dubious idea based on the premise that students should flee their tormenter, and use voucher funds to attend a private s...
Published: 12/16/17
Highlights of GOP compromise bill to overhaul tax code

Highlights of GOP compromise bill to overhaul tax code

WASHINGTON ó Republicans in Congress have blended separate tax bills passed by the House and Senate into compromise legislation that seeks to achieve a sweeping overhaul of the nationís tax code. GOP leaders are looking toward passage of the final pa...
Updated: 2 hours ago
With Rubio, Corker back on board, GOP speeds ahead with tax plan

With Rubio, Corker back on board, GOP speeds ahead with tax plan

WASHINGTON ó Republican lawmakers on Friday secured enough votes to pass the most sweeping tax overhaul in decades, putting them on the cusp of their first significant legislative victory this year as party leaders geared up to pass a $1.5†trillion t...
Published: 12/15/17
Experts chart path for Hillsborough to grow smarter before sprawl takes over

Experts chart path for Hillsborough to grow smarter before sprawl takes over

TAMPA ó Nearly 600,000 more people will live in Hillsborough County by 2040, and if elected officials and county planners donít take bold steps now, the population boom will turn the county into the soulless sprawl of Anywhere, U.S.A.Thatís the messa...
Published: 12/15/17
Tillerson retreats on offer of unconditional N. Korea talks

Tillerson retreats on offer of unconditional N. Korea talks

WASHINGTON ó Americaís top diplomat stepped back Friday from his offer of unconditional talks with North Korea, telling world powers that the nuclear-armed nation must earn the right to negotiate with the United States. Secretary of State Rex Tillers...
Published: 12/15/17
Judge signals release of ex-Trump chair Paul Manafort to Florida home under curfew and GPS monitoring

Judge signals release of ex-Trump chair Paul Manafort to Florida home under curfew and GPS monitoring

A federal judge Friday said a bail package has been put together that would release former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort from home confinement in his condominium in Virginia and allow him to reside at his house in Palm Beach Gardens, but unde...
Published: 12/15/17
The meta-soap opera of Omarosa Manigaultís White House exit

The meta-soap opera of Omarosa Manigaultís White House exit

WASHINGTON ó As the spooling drama of Omarosa Manigault Newmanís White House departure spun into its 36th hour, Washington began asking itself: "Does it actually matter whether Omarosa quit or was fired?"Dumbest story ever," tweeted John Harwood, the...
Published: 12/15/17
Know your candidates: Florida State House | District 58

Know your candidates: Florida State House | District 58

A hard-fought Republican primary ended with the nomination of Lawrence McClure in October during a whirlwind special election cycle to replace state Rep. Dan Raulerson, who is stepping down for health reasons. The GOP winner faces face three less wel...
Published: 12/14/17
Updated: 12/15/17
House Speaker Paul Ryan says heís not leaving Congress soon

House Speaker Paul Ryan says heís not leaving Congress soon

WASHINGTON ó House Speaker Paul Ryan said Thursday heís not leaving Congress anytime soon, trying to squelch rumors that he will walk away in triumph after the Republicansí treasured tax bill is approved. Politico and the Huffington Post published re...
Published: 12/14/17