A sex-and-porn scandal in the Hillsborough County property appraiser’s office has prompted a Sen. Ronda Storms and a former lawmaker to announce challenges to incumbent Rob Turner reports Brandon Larrabee of the News Service of Florida.
Turner, a Republican, has come under fire in recent days for reports by the Tampa Bay Times that he sent pornographic messages to an employee. The employee has since claimed that she is the victim of sexual discrimination.
Storms, R-Valrico, filed for the office Friday, dropping her bid for re-election. Storms said late Friday that she was appalled when she read first about the scandal surrounding Turner and said he should have better responded to the uproar and taken responsibility.
“He has declined to do that, so I think that I have an obligation to stand up for the taxpayers,” she said.
But Storms said she was also motivated by the treatment of some of her constituents, including one woman who has fought a lengthy battle with the appraiser’s office over a mistake in her bill. Storms said she didn’t anticipate bringing up Turner’s personal problems.
“I don’t think I’m going to have to,” she said. “I think the voters will take care of that.”
Storms, serving her second term in the Senate, is a socially conservative lawmaker who nonetheless often broke with leadership. Storms focused heavily on children’s issues during her time in the Senate, including fighting against what she saw as the overuse of psychotropic drugs to treat children in the state’s care.
Former Democratic Rep. Bob Henriquez also filed for the position, setting up a primary with James DeMio, a real estate broker who entered the race in April. Henriquez said he wasn’t running solely because of Turner’s problems, but that they played a role in his decision.
“Certainly, that makes it a more attractive race, when you have an embattled incumbent,” he said.
But Henriquez also said new ideas were needed after Turner held the office for 16 years. He shied away from saying too much about Storms, noting that both had to get through the primary first.
“She’ll be a formidable candidate, and a good candidate,” he said.
Storms said she would anticipate any general election race to focus on issues and ideas.
“I don’t expect it to be nasty,” she said.