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Ronda Storms draws a Republican primary opponent in the state Senate District 10 race

TAMPA — Republican Paul Phillips, a lawyer who lives in Valrico, has filed to take on GOP incumbent Ronda Storms for the District 10 state Senate seat.

Storms, a former Hillsborough County commissioner, is seeking re-election to the post after one term in office.

Phillips said he wants to take his business expertise to Tallahassee and not waste time on laws that infringe on personal liberties — such as forcing people to wear seat belts.

"When you get too far into social issues, you necessarily end up at censorship," Phillips said.

More important are property taxes, property insurance and helping business owners.

"No one's really dug in on the insurance issue, and no one's really dug in on the property tax issue. That's going to take people who really understand finance," he said.

One idea he'd like to revive: eliminating property taxes and an increasing sales taxes, an idea espoused by Marco Rubio when he was House speaker.

"I thought it was a phenomenal idea," said Phillips, noting that it would save taxpayers millions simply by not having to pay salaries for county property appraisers.

Phillips hosted a fundraiser for Rubio's U.S. Senate run on Friday night at the Palma Ceia Country Club. He also wrote the resolution for the Hillsborough County Republican Party chastising state party leaders for endorsing Charlie Crist in his primary run against Rubio.

Phillips sees some parallels in the push against Rubio and his own entry into politics, saying that when he floated the idea of running against Storms, some people told him he should wait his turn because there were others in line to succeed her.

"The last I heard, our Constitution doesn't grant any line for holding office," said Phillips, who teaches a class on philosophy and ethics at St. Petersburg College.

Phillips, formerly treasurer of the Hillsborough County GOP, interviewed in 2008 to replace state Rep. Trey Traviesa when he abruptly halted his re-election campaign. The job, though, went to Rachel Burgin.

He is now supporting Burgin's challenger Marc Johnson in the Republican primary for that seat.

Phillips said he's running to provide GOP voters with an alternative to Storms, who said she welcomes the challenge.

"People should run. It helps the process. It helps voters," she said.

Anyone who's not happy with how elected officials are doing their jobs should throw their hats in the ring, she said.

"That's how I got into public service," she said.

Storms also noted that she and Phillips seem to agree on a number of points, including swapping out property taxes for sales taxes.

Janet Zink can be reached at jzink@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3401.

Ronda Storms draws a Republican primary opponent in the state Senate District 10 race 01/11/10 [Last modified: Monday, January 11, 2010 11:33pm]
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