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  1. Florida Politics

March column: Transit petition has "steep hill"

\uFEFFCommissioner Pat Kemp\uFEFF said getting a trans-portation sales tax referendum on the November ballot  \u201Csounds like a pretty steep hill to climb.\u201D
\uFEFFCommissioner Pat Kemp\uFEFF said getting a trans-portation sales tax referendum on the November ballot \u201Csounds like a pretty steep hill to climb.\u201D
Published Jul. 15, 2018

Leaders of an effort to put a Hillsborough County transportation sales tax referendum on the November ballot say they're confident they'll gather enough petition signatures in time.

But they may have to work fast.

As of Thursday, All for Transportation had turned in 8,437 petitions to the Elections Supervisor's Office since beginning their drive June 15. Committee chairman Tyler Hudson said they have about 12,000 more they haven't turned in.

To put their proposal on the ballot, they'll need 48,745 signatures by July 27. That represents 8 percent of the number of county voters in the 2016 presidential election. They must include at least 8 percent of the voters in at least two of the four county commission districts.

The supervisor's office will verify that the petition signatures meet the requirements.

Petition gatherers normally turn in more than required in case some aren't valid registered voters, but Hudson said the committee is checking its own petitions in advance to avoid invalid signatures.

County Commissioner Pat Kemp, a transit supporter, said meeting the goal "sounds like a pretty steep hill to climb."

But Hudson said support is growing "with each passing day … We're confident we will have the signatures by the end of the month to get this solution on the November ballot."

He said petition campaigns typically start slowly and speed up, with most petitions turned in close to the deadline.

All for Transportation is using both volunteer and paid signature gatherers.

It aims for a 30-year countywide sales tax hike from 7 to 8 cents per dollar, with 45 percent of the resulting $280 million per year going for improved bus service and the rest to local governments for road and bridge improvements and maintenance.

Endorsement wars

• Congressional District 15 GOP primary: Florida Right to Life gives Danny Kushmer and Rep. Ross Spano "Support-A" ratings. But other candidates consider themselves pro-life, including Neil Combee, who says he didn't receive the group's questionnaire.

• Florida House District 63: The Florida Police Benevolent Association backs Republican incumbent Shawn Harrison; Tampa Firefighters IAFF Local 754 backs Democratic challenger Fentrice Driskell

• County commission District 7 Democratic primary: Commissioner Pat Kemp backs Kim Overman

• Attorney General Republican primary: Spano steps outside his own race to back Ashley Moody.

• House District 61: County commissioner Les Miller and wife Gwen Miller back Dianne Hart, joining other prominent Dems, including Kathy Castor.

Hillsborough Dems
get an office

For the first time in years, the Hillsborough County Democratic Party has its own permanent headquarters office, thanks to fundraising by prominent donors.

Kemp said the last time the local party had a permanent office was shortly after her term as chairman ended in 2010.

The Hillsborough Society, a fundraising group led by Tom Hall, Tom and Linda Scarritt and Alex Sink, provided enough money to rent 1,500 square feet of space in an office building at 13220 N. 56th St., said current chairman Ione Townsend.

"It's a reflection of our growth as a party," she said.

The better-funded local Republicans have maintained permanent offices for years.

County GOP
boosts "QAnon"

For right-wing conspiracy theorists, an intriguing development of the Trump era has been "Q," or "QAnon," a posting handle on internet message boards 4chan and 8chan.

Claiming to be a high-level government official with a "Q" security clearance, QAnon tells followers the inside story of Trump's secret battle against the "deep state," including pedophilia rings run by Hillary Clinton and other Hollywood and Democratic Party elites; a foiled plot to shoot down Air Force 1; and secret deployments of the National Guard to put down the riots expected when Trump takes down the cabal of evildoers.

If it sounds a bit looney, that didn't stop the Hillsborough County Republican Party from posting a link to a popular YouTube guide to QAnon on the party's public Facebook page recently.

The post was "pinned" so it stayed at the top of the page. After a reporter asked about it, the post was unpinned, and since appears to have been removed.

Party Chairman Jim Waurishuk, an early Trump supporter, said the post was "informational … It's certainly not something we promote or subscribe to."

Contact William March at wemarch@gmail.com

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