Live-blogging Election Day in Tampa Bay

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Polls are open from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. Tuesday for the primary election to determine party candidates for the races leading to the November elections. Keep checking back here for updates throughout the day.

6:38 p.m. – I’m now live on site at Sheriff Bob Gualtieri’s party.

5:18 p.m. – Dave Trotter over at the Political Hurricane has a very good point. Because of early and absentee voting, Election Day should just be called Results Day.

4:51 p.m. – The Pinellas Supervisor of Election reports that Election Day turnout is at 4.1%. That’s on top of 15.6% turnout from early and mail voting.

2:22 p.m. – The Pinellas Supervisor of Election reports that Election Day turnout is at 3.1%. That’s on top of 15.6% turnout from early and mail voting.

1:40 p.m. – Unofficially, there is near-consensus among readers of SaintPetersBlog.com and Sunburn that the least-effective/worst mailpiece of the 2012 Primary was the lobbyist-fueled attack on former Senate President Tom Lee from allies of Rep. Rachel Burgin.

1:29 p.m. – Former Tampa mayor may not be in politics anymore, but he hasn’t lost his gift for gab. Here’s his take on the current state of politics. “It’s just terrible,” Greco said. “People just don’t turn out. Things have gotten so nasty. Politics is being sold like toothpaste.”

1:03 p.m. – Adam Smith of the Tampa Bay Times has made his predictions in local races: Tom Lee, Jeff Brandes and Bob Gualtieri.

12:37 p.m. – ABC News has enlisted Sen. Paula Dockery for election analysis — starting with tonight’s primary, Steve Bousquet reports.

12:34 p.m. – A political committee’s attack on Senate candidate Jeff Brandes for his support of the ‘Google Car’ even garnered attention from the New York Times.

12:22 p.m. – AP reporter Gary Fineout asks a good question: What happens if Rachel Burgin defeats Tom Lee in the state Senate GOP primary in Hillsborough County?

Senate leaders backed former president Lee, but that didn’t stop some lobbyists from helping out Burgin against their old foe. Lee’s trangressions are many to some lobbyists, including his push to force them to disclose how much they were getting paid to lobby the Legislature. One of the attacks against Lee dredged up an old divorce and questioned his character.

One could be tempted to conclude it’s just one race and the outcome shouldn’t have an outsized impact in the halls of the Capitol.

But when asked recently if there would be any consequences, incoming Senate President Don Gaetz said this: “I don’t think that any vengeance has to be planned for these Democratic lobbyists. I think the stink of dirty personal attacks will hang on them and they are making their own problems.”

And Gaetz added that he thought that some of those who did help Burgin went “way, way over the line.”

11:03 a.m. – I asked USF journalism instructor Wayne Garcia, formerly the “Political Whore” at Creative Loafing and before that a well-regarded political consuntant and reporter, for his Election Day insights.  Here are his best Tweets: Insight 1: Running for judge is a win-win. Even if you lose, your practice will increase revenues afterward because of all the free pub.; Insight 2: As an NPA, I get to vote for nobody and see no direct mail, so I judge the election by TV ads and that is a terrible thing.; Insight 3: I hope that incumbent judges targeted for no good reason like past clients Ann Ober and Jack Day keep their jobs.; Insight 4: Not that I have a lot of Tea Party friends to judge by, but I don’t feel a lot of TP excitement/buzz. Did they all vote absentee?; Insight 5: Whoever did the anti-Brandes TV ads featuring the driverless cars should refund their consulting fee and media buy commission.

10:09 a.m. – As Steve Bousquet explains, Tampa Bay provides a neat laboratory in this expected low-turnout election, because of unresolved changes to the state election laws. Pinellas, operating under the new law, had eight days of early voting, and Hillsborough, bound by the old law and awaiting preclearance required by the federal Voting Rights Act, had 14. Sure enough, more than 10 times as many people voted early in Hillsborough (20,197) as in Pinellas (1,612). But with Pinellas Supervisor of Elections Deborah Clark aggressively promoting absentee ballots with convenient dropoff sites, Pinellas has collected 88,314 absentees compared to Hillsborough’s 33,309.

10:02 a.m. – Palm Beach State Senate candidate Jeff Clemens probably has the best Facebook status this Election Day: “BIG job interview today.”

9:43 a.m. – Tampa Bay Times columnist John Romano reminds Pinellas voters how fortunate they are to have a competitive race for Sheriff between Bob Gualtieri and Everett Rice:

…have you forgotten the time when an unemployed disc jockey with no law enforcement experience was a major party candidate? Or that time when a psychologist ran against a two-term incumbent? Or that freedom-affirming election when the best the Democrats could offer was a blank line on the ballot?

We have seen retired cops from up North, security guards from down the road and a candidate who had once ranked 123rd out of 126 applicants in the Sheriff’s Office when applying for a promotion to sergeant.

All of which has led to 20 years of landslides, blowouts and hey-wasn’t-there-an-election-today results.

9:35 a.m. – Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner says there are “no reported issues” so far with the primary election.

8:29 a.m. – Jeff Brandes and Jim Frishe are battling to the end in Senate District 22. Story here. A final word on this race here.

8:26 a.m. – Influential radio host Bill Bunkley’s candidate recommendations are here.

8:05 a.m. – Political consultant Anthony Pedicini says that absentee and early voting will have a bigger impact on tonight’s results than in previous elections. He says that benefits candidates like Jeff Brandes and Tom Lee who spent a lot of money early in the campaign.

7:34 a.m. – Nick Hansen tweets: @Election Day has been the last 45 Days of AB live ballots. Today is the finale & closing ceremonies.

7:32 a.m. – StPetePolls.org has released its latest survey showing two sensible Republicans well on their way to the Florida Senate. According to the poll, John Legg received 61% of the respondents’ support, followed by Rob Wallace at 22% and John Korsack at 17%. The Democrat in Senate District 17 has dropped out, so the winner of the GOP primary will be elected. Former Senate President Tom Lee is leading Rachel Burgin in the GOP primary for Senate District 24, 59 to 41 percent.

7:00 a.m. – Polls are now open.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.