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  1. Florida Politics

Hillsborough Democrats boost mail voting over past years

Like Democrats statewide, Hillsborough County Democrats are outpacing their past performance in absentee or mail voting.

Florida Republicans usually lead Democrats in mail voting, but Democrats catch up with in-person voting.

Statewide, Republicans led in mail voting as of Monday, but only by 2 percentage points, 42-40 percent, compared to a five-point margin at the same time in 2012.

In Hillsborough County, meanwhile, Democrats usually outpace Republicans in mail voting, and Republicans catch up later.

As of midweek, 43.3 percent of Hillsborough's 110,237 mail ballots came from Democrats and 37.7 percent from Republicans, a 5.6 point Democratic advantage.

In the 2012 presidential election, Hillsborough Democrats finished the election with a 3.9-point advantage in mail ballots, and in the 2014 mid-term election, the parties were nearly tied, 40.3 percent Democrats and 40.1 percent Republicans.

NAACP crowd bashes Ober for missing event

State Attorney Mark Ober skipped the NAACP/Tampa Organization for Black Affairs candidate forum Monday night and took a pounding from the Democratic-oriented crowd as result.

Ober's Democratic opponent, Andrew Warren, got applause and friendly questions from the crowd on issues he's raised in his campaign, including his contention that Ober's office has been too quick to charge juveniles as adults and his accusation that Ober has a conflict of interest in accepting campaign contributions from criminal defense lawyers.

"We are an extreme outlier" in charging juveniles as adults, he said. "We need to keep kids on the right path and out of prison."

Warren a former federal prosecutor, stoked the crowd when he said, "I've had the privilege of serving under President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder."

One member of the panel of questioners for the forum, Apostle Tony Woods of El Shaddai International Ministries, gave Warren a message for Ober: "Tell him we understand that black and Latino votes don't count" for Ober.

Ober said he had a previously scheduled commitment. Invitations went out Sept. 27, according to NAACP political director Yvette Lewis.

Southern Heritage group backs Vazquez

Democrat Jose Vazquez Figueroa, challenging Rep. Dan Raulerson, R-Plant City, in the District 58 state House race, is getting help from an unexpected direction — a Confederate heritage preservation group.

Vazquez, who moved to Florida from Puerto Rico in 1999, would seem an unlikely champion of the Confederate heritage.

But last spring, Raulerson voted for a bill to remove a statue of a Confederate general as one of the state's two representatives in National Statuary Hall in the U.S. Capitol.

"Raulerson's voting record is anti-Florida Veterans," said David McCallister of Save Southern Heritage-Florida. "Floridians are rejecting hate, especially hate of Florida history." Vazquez, he said, "supports Florida history and Florida veterans."

The group is backing other area Republicans who voted against the bill including Reps. Ross Spano of Riverview, Neil Combee of Polk City, Blaise Ingoglia of Spring Hill and Greg Steube of Sarasota.

It opposes Republican Reps. Shawn Harrison and Dana Young of Tampa, Chris Sprowls of Palm Harbor, Larry Ahern of Seminole, Chris Latvala of Clearwater, Kathleen Peters of Treasure Island, Colleen Burton of Lakeland, and Sen. Kelli Stargel of Lakeland, who voted for it.

All local Democrats backed the bill.

Contact William March at wemarch@gmail.com

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