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Pat Kemp wins Hillsborough District 6 commission race

Commissioner Sandra Murman said Democratic enrollment was biggest obstacle
Hillsborough Commission District 6 candidates, from left, Commissioner Patricia "Pat" Kemp, Democrat, and Republican Commissioner Sandra L. Murman.
Hillsborough Commission District 6 candidates, from left, Commissioner Patricia "Pat" Kemp, Democrat, and Republican Commissioner Sandra L. Murman. [ Pat Kemp, Sandra L. Murman ]
Published Nov. 4, 2020|Updated Nov. 4, 2020

TAMPA — Hillsborough County Commissioner Patricia “Pat” Kemp defeated her fellow commissioner and Republican rival Sandra L. Murman, grabbing an early lead in the race for the District 6 countywide seat and never looking back.

With all 390 precincts reporting and early voting and mail ballots counted, unofficial results showed Kemp with 53 percent of the vote.

"I feel very proud of what we did,'' Kemp said about her own campaign.

“I couldn’t be more thrilled," she added. “I’m looking forward to the next four years.”

Earlier in the day, Murman, said the biggest challenge she faced was trying to dilute the Democratic Party’s 74,000-person advantage in voter enrollment. Murman, 70, served 10 years on the commission and eight years as a state lawmaker in Tallahassee, but had never run countywide before.

“The Democratic registration — we knew all along we had to overcome that big difference,” Murman said Tuesday morning outside of the voting site at the Jimmy B. Keel Library in Tampa.

The often-vitriolic campaign pitted two incumbent commissioners against each other — and regularly focused on their opposing views on growth management.

Murman called Kemp an extremist promoting an anti-growth, job-killing agenda and her campaign advertising characterized Kemp as unethical and deceitful. Kemp frequently cited what she described as reckless and irresponsible planning during Murman’s 10 years in office that led to crowded schools, congested roads and limited water resources in fast-growing south county. She characterized Murman as a hypocrite beholden to builders and developers.

Murman had the endorsement of — and a $200,000 contribution from — the Tampa Bay Builders Association. A political committee chaired by Willy Nunn, president of Homes by West Bay, sent $100,000 to Murman’s own election committee. Separately, Homes by West Bay and three other development interests contributed a combined $200,000 to the political action committee chaired by Murman’s consultant, Anthony Pedicini.

Kemp, 63, is finishing her first term as commissioner. A lawyer, she served as an aide to then-County Commissioner Kathy Castor from 2003 to 2006. She lost a bid for the commission in 2014, but won the District 6 seat in 2016.

Over the past four years, she has put a focus on a greater need for affordable housing, smart growth — including a hike of the county’s impact fees to reflect the cost of providing services — and more mass transit options.

Murman, 70, joined the commission in 2010 and previously served eight years as a state lawmaker ending in 2004. Job growth and economic development were centerpieces of her platform, but she also is a strong advocate for children, seniors and other vulnerable residents.

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