Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Pasco and Hernando districts are similar; will the results be, too?

Is Democrat Amanda Murphy’s victory in a state House race in Pasco County a harbinger of things to come in Hernando? Only time will tell.

DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times

Is Democrat Amanda Murphy’s victory in a state House race in Pasco County a harbinger of things to come in Hernando? Only time will tell.

A moderate Democrat with a modest war chest is matched up against a much better-funded Republican closely tied to the party.

The Democrat seizes on the Republican-led state Legislature's rejection of a decade's worth of Medicaid money — $51 billion in total — as a sign that the opponent's party has truly lost its way.

And kind words from a popular maverick Republican, Pasco County Tax Collector and former state Rep. Mike Fasano, prove to be a big boost among the vast numbers of nonaffiliated voters in a county that hadn't elected a Democratic state lawmaker in roughly two decades.

All that describes the race in Florida House District 36, in western Pasco County, recently won by Democrat Amanda Murphy.

And, who knows, it might also describe next year's election in Hernando's District 35, where Democratic candidate and former Republican David Welch has challenged Republican Blaise Ingoglia, who is not only close to the party, but a big part of it. His jobs as vice chairman of the Republican Party of Florida and chairman of the party in Hernando helped him raise about $110,000 before Welch even entered the race two weeks ago.

I know. The election is still a long way off. It is impossible to know, for example, whether Welch's backing of Obamacare will turn out well or disastrously. And the timing of the Pasco election, coming at the peak of disgust with Washington Republicans, was ideal.

Murphy's Republican opponent, Bill Gunter, obliged her by saying that rejecting Medicaid money for struggling Floridians was a fine idea. Ingoglia, at least in the statements I've seen (he didn't return a phone call seeking an interview), hasn't said much about it.

And, finally, I should point out an obvious difference in the two districts: Democrats enjoy a slight lead in the number of registered voters in the one in Pasco, while Republicans lead by about 3,000 in the Hernando district.

But the advantages of either party are dwarfed by the number of voters without party affiliation — more than 22,000 in District 35.

The district in Hernando is also a lot less Republican than it was before the 2012 redistricting. Gated communities in northwest Hernando and slices of Sumter and Pasco counties — all bright red — were replaced with a more centrist section of northern Hernando.

And if the two districts are now closer in party affiliation, they are almost identical in other ways: about 90 percent white, average age of 46, large numbers of transplanted, not especially hard-line, New York Republicans.

County Commission Chairman David Russell, the former state representative who introduced Ingoglia's campaign announcement, watched Murphy's race closely because of the similarities, he said. He does not, however, expect the same results.

I'm not so sure, especially because Ingoglia, a homebuilder, is known for things like fueling the speculative real estate market and falling behind on his personal property taxes while Welch is known as an advocate for the mentally ill and lowering the cost of sinkhole coverage.

Which is how he got to know Fasano, who has not endorsed him, as he did Murphy, but has given him his trademark seal of approval.

Welch, he said, "would be a great representative for the little guy and gal."

Pasco and Hernando districts are similar; will the results be, too? 10/29/13 [Last modified: Tuesday, October 29, 2013 3:35pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Tampa man crashes into parked cars, gate at the Islamic Society of Tampa Mosque

    Crime

    A Tampa man intentionally drove his pick-up truck into two parked vehicles before smashing through the locked gate of the Islamic Society of Tampa Mosque, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office.

    Shaun H. Urwiler, 42, was arrested July 16 for intentionally driving his pick-up truck into two parked vehicles before smashing through the locked gate of the Islamic Society of Tampa Mosque, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office. [Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office]
  2. USF hoops to play at Indiana in November

    Blogs

    The USF men's basketball team is set to get an early test from a Big Ten powerhouse in non-conference play next season.

  3. Last steel beam marks construction milestone for Tom and Mary James' museum

    Growth

    ST. PETERSBURG — Tom and Mary James on Wednesday signed their names to the last steel beam framing the 105-ton stone mesa that will be built at the entrance of the museum that bears their name: the James Museum of Western and Wildlife Art.

    The topping-out ceremony of the James Museum of Western & Wildlife Art was held Wednesday morning in downtown St. Petersburg. Mary James (from left), husband Tom and Mayor Rick Kriseman signed the final beam before it was put into place. When finished, the $55 million museum at 100 Central Ave. will hold up to 500 pieces of the couple's 3,000-piece art collection. [Courtesy of James Museum of Western & Wildlife Art]
  4. Florida's school grades improve as educators get the hang of a new system

    Testing

    Following a trend, Florida's school grades showed strong gains in the third year after the state changed its grading formula and the standardized tests that students take every year.

    After finding out earlier Wednesday that her school went from a low C to an A,  Bear Creek Elementary principal Willette Houston celebrates with her students in the YMCA After School program at the school in St. Petersburg. Houston is giving a high five to rising fifth grader Jonaven Viera. Rising 4th grader Jonathan Cafaro is in foreground with his back to camera. [CHERIE DIEZ   |   Times]
  5. Tampa Bay woman, 11-year-old boy had sex up to 20 times the year their baby was born, detectives say.

    Crime

    TAMPA — A woman sexually battered an 11-year-old Brandon boy, got pregnant and raised the baby for three years before a tip led to her arrest, Hillsborough County sheriff's officials said.

    Marissa Mowry, now 25,  had sex as many as 20 times in 2014 with a boy who was 11 when he impregnated her, Hillsborough County detectives allege. [Photo courtesy of Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office]