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Sandy Murman to challenge Pat Kemp for Hillsborough Commission seat

Facing term limits on her own seat, Commissioner Sandy Murman files for a countywide district

Commissioner Sandy Murman decided 10 isn’t enough.

After flirting with a potential run for Hillsborough County clerk of the circuit court and comptroller, Murman qualified Thursday morning to challenge fellow Commissioner Pat Kemp for the countywide District 6 seat.

Kemp, a Democrat and first-term incumbent, qualified for re-election earlier this week. Murman, a Republican, faces term limits on the District 1 seat she has held for 10 years.

Though Murman filed pre-qualifying papers to run for the clerk’s post two years ago, her decision to challenge Kemp had been widely anticipated.

Related: Hillsborough Commissioner Sandy Murman gears up her campaign machinery

Murman is expected to have substantial backing from the home-building and development sectors, even though the two commissioners have voted similarly over the past few months to increase impact fees on new construction for schools, parks and transportation.

Hillsborough Commissioner Pat Kemp is seeking re-election to her district 6  countywide seat.
Hillsborough Commissioner Pat Kemp is seeking re-election to her district 6 countywide seat. [ Courtesy of Pat Kemp ]

Still, transportation is likely to be a key differential.

Murman and Kemp differed on the fate of the proposed ferry to link South Shore to MacDill Air Force Base. Murman joined a board majority to push the project to the Hillsborough Area Regional Transportation Authority over the objections of Kemp and fellow Democrats Mariella Smith and Kimberly Overman. In 2016, Murman was part of a four-commissioner majority to block a half-cent sales tax for transportation referendum from appearing on the general election ballot.

Likewise, Murman joined the majority to keep an alternative referendum off the 2020 ballot in the event the 2018 one-cent sales tax referendum result is voided by the Florida Supreme Court.

“I don’t think the contrast could be more stark,’’ said Kemp.

Efforts to reach Murman for comment were unsuccessful.

Related: Murman decision to withdraw from District 7 shakes up commission race

Murman, a former state legislator, had considered a countywide run previously. In 2017, Murman filed to switch to commission District 7, a countywide seat, but reconsidered and stayed in her current district when the qualifying deadline passed in 2018. The District 1 seat spans from Keystone to Ruskin and includes south Tampa and most of the county’s coastal regions.

“I fully respect term limits, and maybe that weighed on my mind a lot,” Murman said then. “When my term is done, I would have been here 10 years.”

Democrats hold a 74,000-person advantage over Republicans in party enrollment among Hillsborough County voters. The candidate qualifying period ends at noon Friday. The general election is Nov. 3.