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Birdsong plans to run against Hagan again for Hillsborough Commission

The Democrat from Carrollwood did better than expected the last time she challenged Hagan.
Angela Birdsong.
Angela Birdsong. [ . ]
Published Jan. 21|Updated Jan. 21

Angela Birdsong, a Democrat who ran more strongly than expected against a well-financed incumbent in 2018, filed paperwork on Friday to challenge Republican Hillsborough County Commissioner Ken Hagan again this year in the newly remapped commission District 2.

Birdsong, 61, of Carrollwood, an insurance agent and mother of one grown son, said the changed composition of the district will give her a better chance in 2022.

The remapping, proposed by Democratic Commissioner Pat Kemp, took Republican-leaning areas around Thonotosassa out of the north Hillsborough district and added Democratic-leaning areas around the University of South Florida.

The redistricting spurred heated arguments among the commissioners, and Republicans Hagan and Stacy White voted against the proposal along with Democrat Gwen Myers.

If Birdsong were elected, the board of commissioners would have two black commissioners for the first time in the memory of long-time political observers, and the board’s Democratic majority could increase to 6-1, depending on the outcome of other races.

In 2018, Birdsong, then a first-time candidate for office, lost to Hagan by less than 5 percent, even though Hagan outspent her by about $470,000 to $33,846.

Backed by the Democratic women’s organization Ruth’s List, Birdsong ran a liberal, populist campaign, accusing Hagan of being wedded to developers and wealthy corporate interests. She criticized his work to build a new stadium in Tampa for the Tampa Bay Rays, saying public money shouldn’t be spent on a sports stadium.

She said this week she’ll run a similar campaign this year — “I want to give the ordinary people of the county a voice.”

She favors the All for Transportation sales tax referendum and said the top issues facing the county are affordable housing, workforce training and the transportation tax. A member of the county Health Care Advisory Board, she said the county should intensify efforts to educate people about its indigent health care program and enroll beneficiaries.

A New York city native, Birdsong moved to Tampa 32 years ago.

Hagan, via text message, said he has expected Birdsong to file and that she may not be his opponent because there may be a primary. He didn’t respond to a question about the impact of the district boundary change.

But the change in the district was not large, according to Democratic insiders who have analyzed the changes.

Hagan, a prolific fundraiser and energetic campaigner with one of the county’s best-known political names, will be tough to beat even with the changes, said local GOP political consultant Brock Mikosky.

Hagan had already raised $212,755 through December.

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