Times columnist Ernest Hooper offers his analysis of key races for the Nov. 2 general election. These are not endorsements.
This interestingly-drawn district yields the most interesting matchup of Hillsborough's four County Commission battles.
Democrat John Dingfelder and Republican Sandra Murman both have ties in South Tampa, but the district also includes neighborhoods along the SouthShore coast.
Murman, a former state representative, has stronger connections in SouthShore. The support she has received from political power broker Sam Rashid may be a signal that she won't be an independent voice, but it may not matter.
Dingfelder appears to be struggling to galvanize full support in South Tampa even though he represented that area as a Tampa City Council member.
With the aide of his wife and exceptional campaigner Lynn Marvin, Dingfelder should never be discounted. But the tide seems to be turning Murman's way.
County Commissioner Ken Hagan has emerged as the frontrunner in this countywide race, largely because he has managed to gather support outside of his northern Hillsborough base, the area he has served since 2002.
Former Tampa City Council member Linda Saul-Sena thought to be a formidable challenger, needed to dominate in her home base of South Tampa to have any chance, but the grapevine says Hagan has made inroads there.
Jim Hosler, running with no party affiliation, offers some interesting ideas about economic development, particularly in suburban areas such as Ruskin. Yet it appears the battle between Hagan and Saul-Sena has put the squeeze on his efforts.
Look for incumbent Republican Mark Sharpe to take an easy win over Neil Cosentino, no party affiliation, in this countywide race
Cosentino constantly crafts outside-the-box ideas to improve the quality of life in Tampa, and some deserve consideration, such as consolidating the Pinellas and Hillsborough transit authorities.
Sharpe, however, has established himself as one of the area's most thoughtful and principled elected officials. I don't always agree with his views, but reason and logic accompany his most important perspectives.
It's that foresight that will give Sharpe the edge.
County Commission candidate Les Miller completed the heavy lifting in his District 3 race by knocking off incumbent Kevin White in the primary. Write-in candidate Dwight Bolden won't pose much of a challenge. … Republican Victor Crist also makes a smooth transition to the County Commission with only write-in Steven Morris standing in the way. … Democrat David Chalela raised enough money to mount a television campaign, but it won't be enough to knock off incumbent Rachel Burgin in State House, District 56 race. … State Sen. Ronda Storms easily wins re-election against Victoria Brake.