Monday, December 11, 2017
Politics

Voters choose from inside to promote Latimer to head Hillsborough elections office

TAMPA — Democrat Craig Latimer won a comfortable victory Tuesday over Republican state Rep. Rich Glorioso in the race for Hillsborough County supervisor of elections.

With all precincts reporting, Latimer won with nearly 56 percent of the vote, a margin of more than 57,000 votes.

"I'm very excited," he said. "It's been great. I think it sends a message from the voters they like direction of the office. Four years ago we started to restore confidence in that office. ... It's been really rewarding."

Glorioso could not be reached to comment.

Both candidates vied to replace Earl Lennard, a former county schools superintendent, who took over the office after the 2009 death of Democrat Phyllis Busansky. Lennard is retiring.

Lennard and Busansky have been credited with stabilizing the Supervisor of Elections Office after the troubled tenure of elections chief Buddy Johnson.

Latimer came up through the ranks of law enforcement, spending 35 years with the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office. He supervised investigations of murders and serious crimes before retiring as a major in 2008.

Latimer joined the elections office as Busansky's chief of staff after he managed her election victory over Johnson. But upon Busansky's death, the Republican Lennard kept Latimer on as his own chief of staff.

That gave Latimer the bipartisan distinction of having worked for elections chiefs of both political parties.

Latimer built his campaign around the themes that he had a proven track record and helped restore confidence and integrity into the elections office.

Glorioso was a Plant City commissioner from 1998 to 2004 before his election to the state House. But he reached his term limit this year as he concluded his fourth term. Glorioso also served in the Air Force for 27 years, retiring as a colonel.

Glorioso tried to distinguish himself from Latimer by saying he had "leadership experience ... There's a big difference between a staff member and the leader of an organization," he said.

The usually low-profile supervisor of elections race took a controversial turn last month when Glorioso questioned the contribution of $7,550 by elections employees to Latimer.

Glorioso said he would have rejected the money, saying it left the perception workers could have been influenced to donate or were currying favor with their boss.

Latimer said the charge was baseless.

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