Hillsborough Commissioner Al Higginbotham wins GOP primary, will face Pat Kemp in November

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Al Higginbotham crushed three opponents in the District 7 County Commission GOP primary race Tuesday. Higginbotham is currently the District 4 commissioner, but is term limited out of that seat. Instead he hopes to replace Mark Sharpe, who is also leaving due to term limits, in the countywide seat.

With 222 of 347 precincts reporting, Higginbotham carried 66 percent of the vote. Tim Schock was his closest competition with 15 percent, followed by Robin Lester with 11 percent and Don Kruse with 7 percent.

Higginbotham will face Democrat Pat Kemp in the Nov. 4 general election. Kemp, a former Hillsborough County Democratic Party Chair, defeated her opponent Mark Nash with 65 percent of the vote based on early results.

Kemp has run for office before. In 2010 she lost a State House bid to Janet Cruz.

Kemp faces an uphill funding challenge. She only has $8,763.88 in the bank while Higginbotham has more than $20,000. However, Kemp beat Nash spending less than $40,000 compared to the more than $70,000 he spent. Higginbotham raised a total of $239,252. Kemp raised $43,070.

Both Kemp and Nash came into the race late after Tampa City Council member Mary Mulhern announced she would not be running.


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.