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As expected, voter turnout in Tampa is lagging

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

More than half way through Election Day in Tampa voter turnout was abysmally low, as expected. By 1:30 Tuesday only 2,791 voters had cast a ballot at their precinct.

The Election Day turnout so far brings the total voting to just fewer than 22,000 ballots cast. Of those, 16,545 were cast by mail and 2,592 during early voting.

Voter turnout so far is at just 10.38 percent and is on track to be less than 12 percent. That would make this Tampa Municipal Primary the lowest voter turnout since the 1970s.

The low turnout can be attributed to the lack of any competition for mayor. Bob Buckhorn is running virtually unopposed. He did draw a write-in candidate, Jose Vazquez, but that’s not expected to be a problem for Buckhorn.

City Council races in Tampa this year are also largely uneventful. Incumbents Lisa Montelione, Harry Cohen, Yvonne Yolie Capin and Mike Suarez all drew challengers but have grossly out-funded them. Frank Reddick had initially drawn two challengers but one withdrew from the election and the other failed to qualify.

Two races are fairly competitive. The seat being vacated by Mary Mulhern, who is term-limited out, is being sought by current Council Chair Charlie Miranda, who is also termed out of his current seat. Miranda faces former Tiger Bay Club of Tampa President Joseph Citro and Julie Jenkins.

Miranda’s seat has three candidates vying for it. Thomas Clark Castellano, Guido Maniscalco and Jackie Toledo are duking it out for the District 6 seat.

With more than $125,000 raised, Toledo is out-funding her competition about four to one. Maniscalco has brought in only $38,000 and Castellano just $32,000.

According to Florida Politics reporter Mitch Perry, polling places in District 6 are quiet. He spent more than 30 minutes at the Seminole Heights Garden Center and saw just one voter. Perry also bumped into Mike Suarez’s opponent, Susan Long.

“I was up in New Tampa. They had less than 15 [voters]; USF hasn’t had a single vote,” Long told Perry when he asked about turnout.

Perry said turnout seemed to be a little better at the American Legion Post 111 off Florida Avenue. He said he counted about 10 voters at that polling place within about a half-hour.

Janelle Irwin has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. She also hosts a weekly political talk show on WMNF Community radio. Janelle formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for Patch.com and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a diehard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and the ongoing Pier debacle. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also the devoted mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder. To contact, email janelle@floridapolitics.com.

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