Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

In Democratic County Commission primary, newcomer Kevin Beckner has big lead

Kevin Beckner, running in the Democrat primary for County Commission District 6 seat, hugs supporters at the Rock N Sports Bar & Grill in Centro Ybor Tuesday as absentee ballots and early returns show him well ahead of Denise Layne and Joe Redner.

JOHN PENDYGRAFT | Times

Kevin Beckner, running in the Democrat primary for County Commission District 6 seat, hugs supporters at the Rock N Sports Bar & Grill in Centro Ybor Tuesday as absentee ballots and early returns show him well ahead of Denise Layne and Joe Redner.

TAMPA — Political newcomer Kevin Beckner has spent the better part of two years campaigning for a Hillsborough County Commission seat.

That work paid off Tuesday, as he held a comfortable lead in the at-large District 6 Democratic primary over two rivals, with most precincts reporting.

He ran well ahead of activist Denise Layne, making her third try at a commission seat. And strip club owner Joe Redner finished last in his eighth bid for elected office.

Beckner will face incumbent Commissioner Brian Blair in the November general election. Blair easily fended off opponent Don Kruse in the Republican primary.

In the only other primary race for the commission, Republican Ken Hagan held a commanding lead over neighborhood activist Tom Aderhold. That will effectively return Hagan to the commission for a third term, since his only remaining opponent is a write-in candidate.

The apparent incumbent victories were not surprises. Both Hagan and Blair enjoyed overwhelming fundraising advantages over their lesser known challengers.

Rather, the evening belonged to Beckner, who emerged from relative obscurity to challenge for his first elected office.

Beckner, 37, a financial planner, has spent 19 months campaigning door to door and raising money. In all, he took in more than $110,000, spending almost all of it on a series of slick mailers to reliable Democratic voters.

"We have build a wonderful grass roots organization," said Beckner, stopping short of declaring victory late Tuesday. "We're doing it the old-fashioned way, and that's by connecting with people."

His nearly empty war chest means he will have to start anew to mount a campaign against Blair, who had raised about $180,000 as of Friday but spent less than a third of that.

In his mailers and on the stump, Beckner has pledged to work across party lines to bring better planning, both in the way Hillsborough County is growing and spending tax dollars. He held himself out as a fresh face who would have a better chance of getting things done than his opponents, who have sometimes sparred with commissioners.

Layne, a longtime growth management activist, held back from accepting defeat late Tuesday. "We'll see what happens," she said.

In addition to his grass roots efforts, Beckner enjoyed active support from gay and lesbian activists. He is believed to be one of the first openly gay candidates for countywide office.

He faces in Blair, an incumbent who has voted against gay pride displays on county property and spoken out against student-led protests against bullying of gays in schools.

Blair, 51, has been a persistent critic of county spending and has pushed for property tax rate cuts, even before voters mandated them in January. He has faced criticism from environmentalists for his efforts to cut or streamline growth management rules.

He did not return a phone call Tuesday.

In the other race, Hagan's was leading by a 2-1 margin over Aderhold late Tuesday. He now faces a mysterious write-in candidate, Harold Gleason of Carrollwood, on Nov. 4.

But Gleason had his biggest impact Tuesday. His presence in the race confined the voting to District 2's 70,341 Republicans, and excluded 110,333 voters from other parties and those with no party affiliation.

Hagan, 40, did not return calls Tuesday night. Aderhold, president of the Keystone Civic Association, declined to comment.

Hagan has served on the commission since 2002. Last year, he spearheaded the county's decision to borrow $500-million for a variety of imminent transportation projects. He vowed in his next term to work on longer-range transportation upgrades, such as transit, plus provide more affordable housing and recreation facilities.

Aderhold accused Hagan of leading a "broken" commission that was beholden to developers and blind to a variety of pressing needs.

Bill Varian can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 226-3387.

In Democratic County Commission primary, newcomer Kevin Beckner has big lead 08/27/08 [Last modified: Sunday, August 31, 2008 9:08am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Fatal crash closes Morris Bridge Road at Pasco-Hillsborough county line

    Accidents

    TAMPA — Deputies have closed down Morris Bridge Road in both directions at the Pasco County Line as they investigate a fatal crash.

  2. Mandarin Hide celebrates 7 years serving craft cocktails in St. Petersburg

    Bars & Spirits

    ST. PETERSBURG

    With its mascot, a mounted buffalo head named Manny, decked out in streamers and a shiny party hat, the Mandarin Hide celebrated seven years of serving cocktails on Central Avenue last Thursday night.

    Mandarin Hide’s mascot, a buffalo head named Manny, donned streamers and a shiny party hat as the bar celebrated seven years of serving cocktails last week.
  3. Florida education news: Working conditions, school choice, teacher housing and more

    Blogs

    WORK CONDITIONS: Two teachers at a Pinellas County middle school request transfers out, saying the campus has become "hostile and racially charged." The …

    Pinellas Park Middle School
  4. Forecast: Break out those sweaters, Tampa Bay, as cooler weather just a day away

    Weather

    Tampa Bay residents will finally be able to break out their sweaters and boots this week, but not until enduring yet another humid, rainy day to start the workweek.

    Tampa Bay's 7-day forecast. [WTSP]
  5. Justin Timberlake in Super Bowl halftime show for first time since 'wardrobe malfunction'

    Celebrities

    Justin Timberlake has finally been invited back to the Super Bowl halftime show, 14 years after the "wardrobe malfunction" with Janet Jackson caused a national controversy.

    Singer Janet Jackson covers her breast as Justin Timberlake holds part of her costume after her outfit came undone during the halftime show of Super Bowl XXXVIII in Houston in 2004. The NFL announced Sunday, Oct. 22, 2017, that Timberlake will headline the Super Bowl halftime show Feb. 4 in Minnesota, 14 years after the "wardrobe malfunction" with Janet Jackson cause a national controversy. [Associated Press]