Saturday, June 23, 2018
Politics

GOP voters start casting ballots in Hillsborough

TAMPA — Steve Weinberg had his mind made up, so he decided not to wait. On Monday, he was one of more than 1,200 Hillsborough County voters to go to the polls to get a head start in the Republican presidential primary.

"I wanted to get it over with," said Weinberg, 64, who works in real estate and voted in northern Hillsborough. "He may not be as conservative as the others, but I went for (Mitt) Romney because he's electable."

Early voting has begun in Hillsborough for the Jan. 31 Republican presidential preference primary, ahead of most of the rest of the state.

State legislators last year made controversial changes to election laws, including trimming the early voting period.

But the old laws still stand in Hillsborough and four other counties with a history of racial discrimination — Monroe, Collier, Hardee and Hendry — until the federal government approves the changes.

Early voting in other Tampa Bay counties will begin Saturday.

Monday's turnout was about a third of that of the first day of early voting in 2008. But that year, both political parties had presidential preference primaries.

At Jimmie B. Keel Regional Library north of Carrollwood, where Romney and Ron Paul signs lined the parking lot, more than 150 people had cast votes by late afternoon.

Kathleen Paynter and her husband, Randy, showed up so that their 10-year-old son, Aaron, who was out of school for Martin Luther King Jr. Day, could watch.

Kathleen voted for Newt Gingrich, and Randy voted for Rick Santorum.

"I feel like (Gingrich) is the one who has a chance to come up against (President Barack) Obama," said Kathleen, 51. "He can out-debate him."

Randy said he had considered Gingrich, too, but instead went with his instinct.

Santorum "is honest. He's the most conservative," said Randy, 46. "If people listen to their hearts, I think he has a chance."

Aaron piped up that he likes Romney. "Only because he's in the lead," his father teased.

It wasn't quite as lively at the C. Blythe Andrews Jr. Public Library, which is in a mostly Democratic neighborhood off Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. No Republican campaign had even bothered with signs.

By about 4:30 p.m., only four people had shown up to vote, said Linda Wright, a clerk with the Hillsborough Supervisor of Elections Office. She sent six poll workers home early.

"It's a holiday, so that's where people's minds are" she said. "We expect tomorrow there'll be a big change."

She looked out the door. Up the sidewalk came voter No. 5.

"Well, here comes Mr. Posey," she said.

Marvin Posey, the 80-year-old owner of Posey Power Batteries, said he voted for Romney.

"He's a good, religious man," said Posey. "He may be a different religion, but that's okay." (Romney is a Mormon.)

Posey said he thinks Romney is someone who's "completely different" and will shake things up in Washington.

Does he think Romney can win? He wasn't sure. He was surprised that a few more Republicans hadn't shown up at his polling site.

"Five all day long?" he asked. "That worries me bad."

Reach Jodie Tillman at [email protected] or (813) 226-3374.

Comments
Six candidates waltz into their seats as qualifying ends. The rest still have a fight

Six candidates waltz into their seats as qualifying ends. The rest still have a fight

Six local candidates across Tampa Bay — all county commissioners and city council members — effectively won their elections Friday by default: No one qualified to run against them.The rest still have a fight.Some will square off in an Aug. 28 primary...
Published: 06/22/18
Former Tampa police corporal qualifies as Democrat to run for Hillsborough sheriff

Former Tampa police corporal qualifies as Democrat to run for Hillsborough sheriff

TAMPA — A Democrat has officially joined the race for Hillsborough County sheriff.Gary Pruitt, a 50-year-old former Tampa police corporal who now works as director of security at a local mall, qualified Friday to challenge Republican Sheriff Chad Chr...
Published: 06/22/18
Carlton: Could anything be more partisan than going nonpartisan?

Carlton: Could anything be more partisan than going nonpartisan?

So Hillsborough County commissioners — most of them, anyway — want voters to consider dropping political parties from certain elections, making those races nonpartisan instead.This would mean when you go to vote in those elections, you won’t know if ...
Published: 06/22/18
Hotel renovator approved by council to restore New Port Richey’s Hacienda Hotel

Hotel renovator approved by council to restore New Port Richey’s Hacienda Hotel

NEW PORT RICHEY — A seasoned historic hotel renovator and operator is going to take a crack at getting New Port Richey’s city-owned Hacienda Hotel back into action. New Port Richey City Council members, acting as the Community Redevelopment Agency, u...
Published: 06/20/18
Pope Francis criticizes Trump’s family-separation policy on migrants, says ‘populism is not the solution’

Pope Francis criticizes Trump’s family-separation policy on migrants, says ‘populism is not the solution’

VATICAN CITY - Pope Francis stepped into a growing controversy over President Donald Trump’s immigration policies, criticizing the separation of migrant families at the U.S.-Mexican border and saying that "populism" and "creating psychosis" are not t...
Published: 06/20/18
Raburn out in State House 57 race. Now who’s in?

Raburn out in State House 57 race. Now who’s in?

Well, that didn’t last long.U.S. Army veteran Michael Sean McCoy filed to run as the Republican candidate in the State House, District 57 race just hours after incumbent State Rep. Jake Raburn, R-Lithia, announced he was stepping down.McCoy, who live...
Published: 06/19/18
Updated: 06/21/18
Romano: A Tampa Bay ‘superstar’ caught in the crosshairs of Trump’s border policy

Romano: A Tampa Bay ‘superstar’ caught in the crosshairs of Trump’s border policy

At this moment, she is Tampa Bay’s most influential export. A smart, accomplished and powerful attorney making life-altering decisions on an international stage.But what of tomorrow? And the day after?When the story of President Donald Trump’s border...
Published: 06/19/18
‘Don’t leave me, Mom’: Detainee tells of separation from son

‘Don’t leave me, Mom’: Detainee tells of separation from son

SEATTLE — The call came at mealtime — an anonymous threat demanding $5,000 or her son’s life. So Blanca Orantes-Lopez, her 8-year-old boy and his father packed up and left the Pacific surfing town of Puerto La Libertad in El Salvador and headed for t...
Published: 06/19/18
Trump defiant as border crisis escalates, prepares to lobby House GOP on immigration bills

Trump defiant as border crisis escalates, prepares to lobby House GOP on immigration bills

WASHINGTON - As he prepared to visit Capitol Hill, President Donald Trump on Tuesday continued to insist that Congress produce comprehensive immigration legislation, while anxious Republicans explored a narrower fix to the administration policy of se...
Published: 06/19/18
Trump, GOP to huddle as outrage builds over border policy

Trump, GOP to huddle as outrage builds over border policy

WASHINGTON (AP) — Calls are mounting on Capitol Hill for the Trump administration to end the separation of families at the southern border ahead of a visit from President Donald Trump to discuss legislation.Trump’s meeting late Tuesday afternoon with...
Published: 06/19/18