Friday, April 20, 2018
Politics

Porn's over, and Ronda Storms faces a race

The primary election is past and the decision definite: It's Ronda Storms by a landslide on the Republican side.

So here's the question in the general election for what is traditionally a dull-as-drying-paint race for Hillsborough property appraiser:

Can Storms win without the power of porn?

Technically, that should probably be: Can Storms win without the power of the anti-porn vote — a sentiment that surely helped propel the conservative, controversial Storms to an impressive 70 percent of the vote over Rob Turner, the embattled, beleaguered, brought-it-on himself incumbent.

Previously credited with running an efficient office, Turner would surely have strolled into his next term had the Times not reported on his unfortunate proclivity for sending porn to a woman who worked for him and whom he once dated. (That is so not good.)

Storms, lightning-rod county commissioner turned state senator, may not have much patience for concepts like separation of church and state or the line between personal belief and public duty. But do not accuse her of being slow on the uptake — she leaped into the anti-porn-guy race posthaste.

Storms is a study in polarization, one of those politicians voters either adore or abhor. But if there were Republicans out there thinking of holding their noses and voting for Turner, late-breaking news that he appeared to puff up his educational bona fides probably helped tip the scales.

So Storms had her impressive win and her victory lap primary night at the Cheddar Biscuit restaurant. And now she has a race on her hands.

The Democratic contender is former legislator Bob Henriquez, a Princeton grad, Tampa Catholic High School football coach and a guy who ran a Department of Children and Families office.

And speaking of big vote totals, it is interesting to note that Henriquez won 70 percent himself in his last race for state representative before he term-limited out.

Henriquez says this should be like a hiring decision for voters rather than a political one.

"This is not a position where we're going to create controversy by taking positions on the issue of the day," he tells me, and I'm sorry, but has he met Ronda Storms?

But seriously. You hear a theory that Storms, who is wildly popular with her conservative base in the county, will likely land in public office somewhere, so why not a job in which her views on subjects like abortion or gay rights would not come into play?

No one ever accused her of lacking ambition, so what if one day she wanted to run for, say, state attorney, literally making life and death decisions? What a nice springboard property appraiser could be. (Storms did not call back for comment.)

She is a daunting opponent and a tough campaigner unafraid to say anything, and diehard Ronda-ites will rally for her. But this time it won't be just the Republican faithful voting. Democrats, including those who find her brand of politics dangerous, get to weigh in, too. And Henriquez possesses qualifications and political chops all his own.

And no outrageous porn scandal to sway the vote.

The betting line? A nail-biter.

But with Storms in the mix, safe to say it won't be watching paint dry.

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