Sunday, December 17, 2017
Politics

Hillsborough Commissioner Ken Hagan re-elected without opposition

TAMPA — Incumbent Republican County Commissioner Ken Hagan and his $300,000 campaign fund cruised to victory Friday as he drew no opposition for countywide District 5.

Noon Friday was the deadline for county candidates to qualify for this year's elections.

For Hagan, the day meant another four-year term. For three other sitting commissioners, it meant a final list of opponents.

Primary elections are Aug. 26; the general election is Nov. 4.

Incumbent Commissioners Kevin Beckner, Les Miller and Sandra Murman do not face election this year. Mark Sharpe is prevented from running in District 7 because of term limits.

Incumbent Republican Victor Crist will face no primary opposition in northern Hillsborough's District 2, but will go against Democrat Elizabeth Belcher in the general election.

Commissioner Al Higginbotham, running for the first time in countywide District 7 after being prevented by term limits from running again for District 4, will face fellow Republicans Don Kruse, Robin Lester and Timothy Ernst Schock in the primary.

The winner of that primary will face the winner of the Democratic primary between Mark Nash and Pat Kemp.

The race to replace Higginbotham in eastern Hillsborough's District 4 will likely go to a Republican. Three GOP members — Rick Cochran, Janet Dougherty and Stacy White — qualified, as did write-in candidate Christopher Weaver.

The addition of Weaver to the candidate field means that, in all likelihood, only registered Republicans will have a say in choosing District 4's next commissioner.

Florida is a closed primary state, but when all the candidates for an election have the same party affiliation, state law requires the primary to be open to all registered voters.

By qualifying to run as a write-in, Weaver ensured a non-Republican opponent in November, even though his name will not appear on the ballot. (People can write his name in.)

Weaver's qualification also ensures that no Democrats or independents will be able to vote in the Republican primary, whose winner will be a prohibitive favorite in November.

Weaver, 50, a registered Republican and medical technology sales consultant from Lithia, did not return a call for comment Friday.

County commissioners serve four-year terms and earn $95,523 this year.

Will Hobson can be reached at (813) 226-3400 or [email protected]

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