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COUNTY COMMISSION DISTRICTS 1, 7

Times columnist Ernest Hooper offers his analysis of key races for the Aug. 24 primary.

These are not endorsements.

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COUNTY COMMISSION, DISTRICT 1

Republican Trey Rustmann wanted a November showdown against former Tampa City Council member and Democrat John Dingfelder, but now he has to wrestle with a more daunting primary opponent. Former state legislator Sandy Murman entered the race hours before qualifying ended. Word on the grapevine is that GOP backers pushed Murman to challenge Rustmann because they weren't convinced Rustmann could knock off Dingfelder in the general election. Murman will be well-funded. Her connections as a former legislator and her work as a fundraiser for the Glazer Children's Museum have kept her in the minds of voters. Rustmann has been campaigning longer, but it won't be enough.

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COUNTY COMMISSION, DISTRICT 7

Josh Burgin entered this race just before qualifying ended, calling into question Mark Sharpe's support of a transportation initiative that will raise funds for light rail and road improvements. Burgin, however, could have chosen to simply campaign against the initiative instead of challenging a Republican who's well-respected by conservatives despite his stance on the 1-cent sales tax increase. Burgin's candidacy appears to be an attempt by local power brokers such as Sam Rashid to gain greater control of the commission. Burgin will succeed only if anti-incumbent sentiment is as fervent as some suggest. I'm not seeing it.

- hooper@sptimes.com

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