The two most important local races in Hillsborough County are distinguishing themselves for very different reasons.
Elections Supervisor Buddy Johnson has been in over his head from the moment then-Gov. Jeb Bush appointed him. There is no need to rehash the incompetence, mismanagement, troubling financial dealings and contempt for openness and accountability that have marked Johnson's tenure.
What they all boil down to is more important: His flawed judgment has raised voter anxiety across party lines. The expected record turnout this election is a reminder of how important it is to have faith in the supervisor's competence and integrity.
In the countywide commission race, first-time candidate Kevin Beckner is mounting a tough challenge to Brian Blair, who spent his term demeaning gays and non-Christians and priming the pump for the development industry. Beckner's agenda is far superior. But he has run a nasty campaign for a candidate whose major theme is changing the tone on the board and raising its ethical bar. Beckner sent a piece of mail this week painting Blair as indifferent to domestic abuse. It came as a third-party group sent another piece of mail highlighting a 24-year-old domestic violence complaint an ex-girlfriend filed against Blair.
Beckner took the same low road in the primary, attacking a challenger for his decades-old criminal history. His willingness to take cheap shots is a bad start to a political career, and it won't improve the tone should Beckner win.