Life and politics from the Sunshine State's best city

Bill Rufty: Polk GOP endorses in nonpartisan race

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by
Hunt Berryman
Hunt Berryman

The Polk County Republican Executive Committee endorsed incumbent Polk County School Board member Hunt Berryman for re-election. Berryman is a registered Republican voter.

The school board is supposedly a nonpartisan office.

Don’t tell that to the thousands of Republican insiders across the nation who are supporting the concept of “total majority,” which means endorsement and election of registered Republicans no matter if the office is nonpartisan.

Berryman came in second in the Aug. 30 election. As was the case with most Polk School Board incumbents up for election, he was challenged by three candidates.

Billy Townsend, an independent and longtime critic of the school board, its inaction on education issues and during a scandal last year, came in first with 43 percent of the votes cast followed by Berryman with 33 percent.

Unlike party primary elections, in which the winner is simply the candidate with the most votes, the winner in the nonpartisan election must have more than 50 percent of the ballots cast to win.

Jim Guth, Polk County Republican Party chair, said the executive committee endorsed Berryman because “he is the most conservative candidate and the most prepared to work with all groups involved in our education system …”

The runoff between Townsend and Berryman and that of another school board position will be on the Nov. 8 ballot.

Former Ledger of Lakeland columnist Bill Rufty is Central Florida political correspondent for SaintPetersBlog and Florida Politics. Rufty had been with the Ledger from 1985-2015, where, as political editor, he covered a wide range of beats, including local and state politics, the Lakeland City Commission, and the Florida Legislature. Ledger editor Lenore Devore said about Rufty’s 30-year career: “[He is] a man full of knowledge, a polling expert and a war history buff … who has a steel trap in his brain, remembering details most of us have long since forgotten.”

Latest from The Bay and the 'Burg

Go to Top