Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

After Hillsborough commission primary, Higginbotham looks for broader support

TAMPA — After eight years representing a Republican stronghold, can Hillsborough County Commissioner Al Higginbotham broaden his appeal enough to win countywide, where Democrats have the advantage?

That is the prime question facing Higginbotham's campaign this year, as the 60-year-old Plant City native left eastern Hillsborough's District 4 because of term limits to run for the countywide District 7 seat on the commission. And though Higginbotham romped in Tuesday's GOP primary, a closer look shows he has work to do in large swaths of Hillsborough to prevail in the Nov. 4 general election.

A geographic analysis of the results from Tuesday's District 7 primaries shows, not surprisingly, that Higginbotham drew strong, clustered support from east and south county neighborhoods. In large, populous chunks of Tampa, however, Higginbotham drew minimal support, something that gives Democratic primary winner Pat Kemp hope in a race in which she expects to be outgunned financially.

Of the 20 precincts that delivered the most votes for Higginbotham, 17 were in his traditional support centers — FishHawk Ranch, Sun City Center, Plant City, Riverview, Brandon and Valrico. Three outlier precincts were spread across South Tampa, including No. 123, the Tampa Garden Club on Bayshore Boulevard.

In November, however, there will not be three other Republicans running against him to siphon votes, Higginbotham pointed out.

"We enjoy support throughout the county, but I know I have a lot of work to do everywhere," he said.

Kemp won broader countywide support in her primary victory Tuesday. The 57-year-old lawyer and former chair of Hillsborough's Democratic Party drew most of her support from Tampa but also fared well in places such as Riverview, Thonotosassa and Sun City Center.

There are about 60,000 more registered Democrats than Republicans in Hillsborough, but the GOP has traditionally fared better at turnout in county races. But in this year's District 7 primaries Democrats outvoted Republicans, 53,147 to 49,995, a figure Kemp hopes signals a break in her party's turnout struggles.

"I think it's a good indication of what could happen in November," Kemp said. "It gives me a big lift moving forward."

Kemp is also counting on other lifts in November from Democratic gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist and Florida's medical marijuana ballot question, both of which she hopes drive Democrats to the polls.

According to University of South Florida political science professor Darryl Paulson, though, there is not a proven record of statewide races carrying local candidates into office. Voters in November casting ballots for Crist or medical marijuana won't necessarily also vote in a County Commission race.

"They might vote in the governor's race, but they're probably not familiar with County Commission and School Board races, so often times they'll probably just pass those by," Paulson said. "Local races will probably just come down to which candidate does a better job of turning out their base."

And that, in Higginbotham's mind, will play to his advantage.

"We'll be running this campaign like we have in years past," he said. "We've got a good story to tell. We just need to get out there and tell it."

Contact Will Hobson at whobson@tampabay.com or (813) 226-3400. Follow @TheWillHobson.

After Hillsborough commission primary, Higginbotham looks for broader support 08/30/14 [Last modified: Saturday, August 30, 2014 11:22pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Tiger Woods arrested on DUI charge in Florida

    Public Safety

    Tiger Woods has been arrested on a drunken driving charge in Palm Beach County, various media outlets are reporting.

    Tiger Woods, shown in this Feb. 2 file photo, has been arrested in Florida on a DUI charge. Wire photo

  2. Young male hospitalized after shooting in St. Petersburg

    Crime

    ST. PETERSBURG — A juvenile male was injured Monday morning in a shooting in the 2300 block of 17th Ave S, police said.

    A juvenile was injured in a shooting Monday morning in the 2300 block of 17th Ave S in St. Petersburg. (Zachary Sampson, Tampa Bay Times)
  3. Big rents and changing tastes drive dives off St. Pete's 600 block

    Music & Concerts

    ST. PETERSBURG — Kendra Marolf was behind the lobby bar of the State Theatre, pouring vodka sodas for a weeknight crowd packed tight for Bishop Briggs, the latest alternative artist to sell out her club.

    Sam Picciano, 25, left, of Tampa and Molly Cord 24, Palm Harbor shop for record albums for a friend at Daddy Kool Records located on the 600 block of Central Avenue in St. Petersburg, Florida on Saturday, May 20, 2017. OCTAVIO JONES   |   Times
  4. How Hollywood is giving its biggest stars digital facelifts

    Business

    LOS ANGELES — Johnny Depp is 53 years old but he doesn't look a day over 26 in the new "Pirates of the Caribbean" movie — at least for a few moments. There was no plastic surgeon involved, heavy makeup or archival footage used to take the actor back to his boyish "Cry Baby" face, however. It's all …

    This combination of photos released by Disney, shows the character Jack Sparrow at two stages of his life in "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales."  Johnny Depp, who portrays the character, is the latest mega-star to get the drastic de-aging treatment on screen
[Disney via Associated Press]
  5. Putin visits France, hopes to mend strained ties with West

    World

    VERSAILLES, France — On a visit likely to shape Russia-France ties for years, French President Emmanuel Macron hosted Russian President Vladimir Putin at the sumptuous Palace of Versailles on Monday for what the newly-elected French leader said would be "demanding" talks on Syria, the Ukrainian crisis and other …

    Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, is welcomed by French President Emmanuel Macron at the Palace of Versailles, near Paris, France, Monday. Monday's meeting comes in the wake of the Group of Seven's summit over the weekend where relations with Russia were part of the agenda, making Macron the first Western leader to speak to Putin after the talks. [AP photo]