State Sen. Darryl Rouson, D-St. Petersburg, started off the Hillsborough County portion of his 2022 re-election campaign setting a high bar for any Tampa-based challenger — a fundraiser with a host committee including almost every elected Democrat in the county.
Rouson represents a minority access district covering parts of southern Pinellas and Hillsborough counties and east Tampa.
In the past, he’s faced challenges from Tampa residents, some of whom would like to see a Tampa senator in the seat — about three-quarters of the district’s voters are in Hillsborough.
So far this year, he faces a primary challenge from Janelle Khargie of Tampa, a political newbie who does part-time contract work in public relations, including for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and is on Hillsborough’s Diversity Advisory Council.
Khargie, 43, a single mother of three, filed in January. She hasn’t campaigned actively and has raised no campaign funds. She said she intends to start campaigning seriously soon.
She said she filed in part to get better representation for Hillsborough.
Rouson’s kickoff included six of the seven Tampa City Council members plus Mayor Jane Castor; three of the five Democratic county commissioners; three of the four Democratic constitutional officers plus Sheriff Chad Chronister, a Republican; State Attorney Andrew Warren; five legislators; and other big local Democratic names including Betty Castor, Jim Davis, Les Miller and Alex Sink.