Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Ronda Storms, Rachel Burgin, Rich Glorioso grab opportunity to campaign at Brandon chamber luncheon

BRANDON — Recent political hopscotching turned an annual luncheon into an informal campaigning opportunity for three politicians making news in heated-up local elections.

Greater Brandon Chamber of Commerce members dined Wednesday with state Sen. Ronda Storms, R-Valrico, and state Reps. Rachel Burgin, R-Riverview, and Rich Glorioso, R-Plant City.

All three are seeking election to offices different from their current positions.

Storms wants to oust Hillsborough County Property Appraiser Rob Turner, who is embroiled in controversy after admitting to the Tampa Bay Times that he sent pornography to an employee whom he fired after she complained of sexual discrimination.

At the luncheon, Storms said she wouldn't have joined the property appraiser's race if Turner had "agreed to man up and resign." By contesting him, she hoped to hold him accountable for his actions.

Former state Rep. Bob Henriquez, a Democrat, also entered the race for property appraiser last week, joining real estate broker James DeMio and Rob Townsend, who is running without party affiliation.

Storms' exit from the state Senate opened up her seat, which now represents an area including the University of South Florida, New Tampa, Brandon, Plant City and Sun City Center.

Burgin quickly declared her candidacy for that seat, promoting herself as a pro-business candidate with strong conservative values. She will challenge former Senate President Tom Lee of Brandon.

Though Glorioso contemplated entering the senate race, remaining undecided at the luncheon, he announced Thursday that he will stick with his run for Hillsborough supervisor of elections.

He said he has long aspired to the state Senate, but he felt the elections supervisor's role would promote the democratic process that he had represented in the House and the military.

Glorioso will face the winner of the August primary between two Democrats: former Hillsborough County Commissioner Tom Scott and Craig Latimer, the current chief deputy to outgoing Supervisor of Elections Earl Lennard.

With the changing dynamics, the three candidates spoke at Wednesday's event broadly about their accomplishments throughout their years in public office.

Storms highlighted her bill to crack down on selling food stamps and limiting the types of items that can be bought with food stamps.

Burgin discussed the state's balanced budget and tough cuts, later mentioning an interest in reducing local human trafficking.

Glorioso covered his legislation to support foster children, keep sexual offenders away from children and consolidate government.

Other top topics included job creation and the new Florida Polytechnic University.

Burgin and Glorioso both favored lowering corporate taxes to encourage business growth.

It's a theme that resonated with the room full of business folks, said Adam Bantner, co-chairman of the Brandon chamber's government and economic advisory council.

"They have jobs on their minds, and that's what we have on our minds," he said.

Stephanie Wang can be reached at or (813) 661-2443.

.Fast Facts

How they voted on Polytechnic

The state Legislature created Florida's 12th public university during its last session, effectively dismantling the University of South Florida's polytechnic campus in Lakeland to make way for an independent Florida Polytechnic University. But many criticized the politics behind it, with state Sen. J.D. Alexander, R-Lake Wales, driving the legislation and threatening to cut funding from USF.

Here's how three local politicians voted on the split:

State Rep. Rich Glorioso, R-Plant City, said he was one of three House Republicans who voted against separating the polytechnic campus from USF. He would have preferred a five-year transition to independence but acknowledged the state's need for the "brain train." With the immediate Polytechnic split, Glorioso foresees obstacles with attaining accreditation for the new university. That may affect students' abilities to get loans or cause professors to struggle to win grants, he said.

State Rep. Rachel Burgin, R-Riverview, voted for the separation, but she said she did so to side with the students who were suffering from the discord. Burgin wanted USF to avoid losing millions of dollars in funding. She also said she supported having another state university to expand local offerings for Florida students as a long-term benefit. Burgin broadly called for more general reform of the state's higher education system to keep top students in Florida.

State Sen. Ronda Storms, R-Valrico, strongly favored Polytechnic's creation. She likened it to having universities such as Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cal Tech or Georgia Tech. She said Polytechnic will draw people to Florida, facilitating a transition from the state's tourism focus to becoming more competitive in technology. She doesn't expect to see short-term payoffs but says the long-term results will show in 20 years. And the split from USF was needed, Storms said: "USF would've starved it to death."

Ronda Storms, Rachel Burgin, Rich Glorioso grab opportunity to campaign at Brandon chamber luncheon 06/02/12 [Last modified: Saturday, June 2, 2012 4:31am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. The winner of 'Survivor: Game Changers?' It has to be Jeff Probst



  2. The Daystarter: Gov. Scott vetoes 'Whiskey and Wheaties Bill'; Culpepper's fate in 'Survivor' finale; to catch a gator poacher; your 2017 Theme Park Guide


    Catching you up on overnight happenings, and what you need to know today.

    To catch a ring of poachers who targeted Florida's million-dollar alligator farming industry, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission set up an undercover operation. They created their own alligator farm, complete with plenty of real, live alligators, watched over by real, live undercover wildlife officers. It also had hidden video cameras to record everything that happened. That was two years ago, and on Wednesday wildlife officers announced that they arrested nine people on  44 felony charges alleging they broke wildlife laws governing alligator harvesting, transporting eggs and hatchlings across state lines, dealing in stolen property, falsifying records, racketeering and conspiracy. The wildlife commission released these photos of alligators, eggs and hatchlings taken during the undercover operation. [Courtesy of Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission]
  3. Trigaux: Amid a record turnout, regional technology group spotlights successes, desire to do more


    ST. PETERSBURG — They came. They saw. They celebrated Tampa Bay's tech momentum.

    A record turnout event by the Tampa Bay Technology Forum, held May 24 at the Mahaffey Theater in St. Petersburg, featured a panel of area tech executives talking about the challenges encountered during their respective mergers and acquisitions. Show, from left to right, are: Gerard Purcell, senior vice president of global IT integration at Tech Data Corp.; John Kuemmel, chief information officer at Triad Retail Media, and Chris Cate, chief operating officer at Valpak. [Robert Trigaux, Times]
  4. Take 2: Some fear Tampa Bay Next transportation plan is TBX redux


    TAMPA — For many, Wednesday's regional transportation meeting was a dose of deja vu.

    The Florida Department of Transportation on Monday announced that it was renaming its controversial Tampa Bay Express plan, also known as TBX. The plan will now be known as Tampa Bay Next, or TBN. But the plan remains the same: spend $60 billion to add 90 miles of toll roads to bay area interstates that are currently free of tolls. [Florida Department of Transportation]
  5. Hailed as 'pioneers,' students from St. Petersburg High's first IB class return 30 years later


    ST. PETERSBURG — The students came from all over Pinellas County, some enduring hot bus rides to a school far from home. At first, they barely knew what to call themselves. All they knew was that they were in for a challenge.

    Class of 1987 alumni Devin Brown, from left, and D.J. Wagner, world history teacher Samuel Davis and 1987 graduate Milford Chavous chat at their table.