TAMPA — Personal voting histories show a sharp difference between Yvonne Fry and Lawrence McClure, the two candidates in the Republican special election primary Oct. 10 for East Hillsborough's District 58 state House seat.
Fry has voted in nearly every election she was eligible to participate in back to the late 1990s, including Plant City municipal elections, primaries and runoffs — 34 elections since 1994.
McClure, on the other hand, has a voting record that reflects a more limited interest in politics.
Though he has voted in most general elections, McClure has only voted in one primary election, 2016, when he said he was inspired by Donald Trump to cast a ballot.
McClure said he voted for Trump then because Trump "is someone who evoked lot of emotion from a lot of Americans, and I'm one of them."
In an email, he added that he "was one of those voters Donald Trump spoke to. One of those conservatives who has always been tired of being told to come out and vote for who party leaders say to vote for."
If McClure votes for himself Oct. 10, it will be his first time casting a ballot in a state primary race.
Fry said she also voted for Trump in the 2016 primary, but added, "Every single voting opportunity matters. As a super-voter, I find it disgusting. I'm really offended that he's refused to support a lot of good candidates over the years."
Though she's never held elective office, Fry, 46, has a history of civic involvement and some political activity, including appointments by officeholders to government boards including the state and county commissions on the status of women.
"To me, it's one of the most sacred things," she said. "I feel election day should be a national holiday, and I prefer to go to the poll on election day to vote."
She said she's tried to teach her two children that idea, discussing the candidates with them, having them wear red, white and blue to school on Election Day, and taking them to the polls with her when she votes.
"My daughter likes to fill in the bubbles on my ballot for me," Fry said. "I hope that's legal."
McClure, by comparison, acknowledges he's "an average citizen, more of an outsider," who had little interest in politics before he became owner of an environmental services firm and head of a trade association.
He said that brought him into contact with government regulatory agencies and elected officials.
"I am not an establishment candidate. I am an average citizen running on conservative values I hold dear," he said.
McClure turned 18 in June 2005 and registered to vote more than a year later.
He registered as a Republican on the last day to be eligible for the 2006 state primary, but didn't vote that year. Charlie Crist defeated Tom Gallagher in the GOP primary for governor during that election, then beat Democrat Jim Davis in the general election.
While voting in all general elections since, McClure skipped primaries including Rick Scott's 2010 upset of Bill McCollum in the governor's race and the dramatic wins of Mitt Romney in 2012 and John McCain in 2008 in Florida presidential primaries.
In his email, McClure said, "I think the president has done a great job of inspiring a silent majority to take a more active role in standing up for our values and the principles that make this country exceptional and I'm proud to be among that group and that's why I'm running."
While McClure voted for Trump in the 2016 presidential primary, he skipped the state primary in which Trump ally Carlos Beruff challenged Sen. Marco Rubio, who was then fresh off his bitter presidential primary conflict with Trump.
Fry and McClure are seeking election to a seat being vacated by Plant City Republican Dan Raulerson, who is retiring for health reasons. The winner of their Republican primary faces Democrat Jose Vazquez, Libertarian Bryan Zemina and no-party affiliate Ahmad Hussam Saadaldin in a special general election Dec. 19.
Contact William March at [email protected]