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Jackie Toledo asks Hillsborough Republicans to help her ‘make history’

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

There’s less than a week to go in the Tampa District 6 City Council runoff election, and though the race is officially non-partisan, both candidates are making a partisan pitch to their fellow party members.

“We have a great opportunity in one week to make history. I could be the first Republican in District 6 to win this race,” Jackie Toledo told the dozens of members in attendance at the Hillsborough County Republican Executive Committee meeting Tuesday night at the Museum of Industry and Science in Tampa.

Toledo has been the front-runner for the District 6 race all year long, and almost took the seat outright in her battle against Guido Maniscalco and Tommy Castellano on March 3. But though she had the overwhelming number of votes that evening, she still came up four percentage points short of the 50 percent needed to win the seat outright.

Now with Castellano supporting Maniscalco in the runoff, the race is considered to be considerably closer, though there’s no guarantee that all of Castellano’s voters will switch over to Maniscalco.

“I had my finger pointed in my face one day,” Toledo recounted to her fellow Republicans. “I was told, ‘you’ll never win this seat’ because I’m a Republican. I said I had no idea I’d be making history, because I am winning that seat with your help!” she said to cheers from the crowd, many clad in green on St. Patrick’s Day.

The race has been depicted as being more negative than any recent Tampa City Council election. In this morning’s Tampa Tribune, columnist Joe Henderson takes Toledo to task for her “aggressive” campaign, writing, “I don’t recall any candidate wanting to win a council seat as badly as Toledo. It is that drive to win and the way she is going about it that is making a lot of people nervous.”

But Henderson notes that the Florida Democratic Party has sent out two attack mailers against Toledo.

“We have the Democratic Party united against me,” Toledo said Tuesday night. “They’ve put out mailers, and spent so much money attacking me, because they do not want one Republican on City Council.”

“The Democrats cannot find one issue or one qualification on Jackie Toledo to campaign against, so they are campaigning on the fact that she is a Republican,” chimed in Deborah Tamargo, Hillsborough County Republican Party chair.
With so little representation in Tallahassee, Democratic Party officials and certainly in Tampa have taken pride that the seven- member City Council has been in Democratic hands the past four years, and they’d like to keep it that way, which is why they’re devoting resources to get Maniscalco elected next week.
“They’re literally saying ‘we, the Democrats,’ control Tampa. ‘We’ control the City Council,’ ” said Tamargo with disgust in her voice. “We as Republicans believe in representational government. We believe that Jackie and others go into government to represent. Not to control,” she scolded.
On Monday night the Hillsborough County Democratic Executive Committee voted to provide $1,500 in party funds to devote to Maniscalco’s campaign in the waning days of the election. And on Friday, Florida Democratic Party chair Allison Tant will come to Tampa to oversee a phone bank event for Maniscalco as well.

Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served as five years as the political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. He also was the assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley. He's a San Francisco native who has now lived in Tampa for 15 years and can be reached at

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