TAMPA — Fewer than a third of those applying for Hillsborough County supervisor of elections will be interviewed by the person making the hire, Gov. Charlie Crist.
Of the 21 who have applied so far for the $132,000 job left vacant two weeks ago when Phyllis Busansky died, Crist plans to interview six, said his spokesman, Sterling Ivey. Some will be interviewed in Tampa today.
Crist, who is a Republican, said he won't limit his pick to those from his own party to replace Busansky, who was a Democrat.
"I would consider all," he said Thursday to reporters in Tallahassee. "That's why I'm looking forward to the interviews in Hillsborough County. I think there are some very qualified candidates, and I look forward to discussing that with them — some of them."
It's a short list of two Democrats and four Republicans. They are:
• State Sen. Victor Crist, R-Tampa, 52 (no relation to Gov. Crist).
• Charles "Chris" Hart, 64, Republican, a business consultant who served as a Hillsborough County commissioner from 1994 to 2002.
• Robert Henriquez, 44, Democrat, circuit administrator for the Florida Department of Children and Families in Pasco and Pinellas counties and a former state representative.
• Craig Latimer, 56, Democrat, a former sheriff's major and Busansky's chief of staff in the elections office.
• Earl Lennard, 67, Republican, an energy conservation consultant who served as Hillsborough's superintendent of schools from 1996 to 2005.
• Sandy Murman, 58, Republican, a business consultant and former state representative.
Ivey said two more people might be interviewed, but not all would be interviewed in person. Crist will interview some of the candidates today at 4 p.m. in a boardroom at the Tampa International Airport.
There's much scrutiny on who Crist will pick, considering that the last governor's appointment to this office was Buddy Johnson. Gov. Jeb Bush selected Johnson, a Republican, from a field of 17 in 2003. His years as elections supervisor were troubled and marked by Election Day gaffes and spending mishaps. The FBI started an investigation in February of the office.
Latimer is getting pushed hard by local Democrats as the most suitable of choices. Pat Kemp, chairwoman of the Hillsborough County Democratic Party, is promoting him on her Facebook page with an "Appoint Craig Latimer Supervisor of Elections" group. In a post on Thursday, she said Crist called her and she told him, in a five-minute discussion, to appoint Latimer.
When asked Thursday what qualities he's looking for in the next supervisor, Crist responded: "Well, there's several things, obviously: integrity, competence, knowledge and what their general experiences are."
Times Tallahassee bureau chief Steve Bousquet contributed to this story. Michael Van Sickler can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 226-3402