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Tampa Democrats ponder entering new campaigns

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

The recent creation of a state Senate seat in Tampa via a redistricting lawsuit has spurred some Hillsborough County political figures into action. Republican political figures that is.

Dana Young said last week she’ll not run for re-election to her House District 60 seat this year and instead seek the new state Senate seat encompassing west Hillsborough County, extending from MacDill Air Force Base north to Pasco County. That prompted fellow Republican Jackie Toledo to declare her candidacy for Young’s House District 60 seat, drawn similar to the new Senate seat. Toledo came up just short in her inaugural bid for elected office a year ago, losing to Democrat Guido Maniscalco for Tampa City Council.

Meanwhile, no local Democrats have stepped up to announce their candidacy for the SD 18 seat.

The Florida Democratic Party’s great hope for that seat, Janet Cruz, now says she won’t enter that contest. She cites the expense to compete for it this year with an equal challenge when re-election rolls around for it in just two years.

Mary Mulhern is one Democrat who could be a possibility. The former Tampa City councilwoman was term-limited out of office a year ago, and had earlier expressed interest in possibly for the congressional seat being vacated by David Jolly in Pinellas County.

She has a different mindset these days, though. “I was just really getting use to the idea of not running, but I’ll think about what possibilities are opening up,” she told SPB on Friday after returning from a trip to Michigan.

Mulhern did express interest in the senate seat, but then conceded it would probably be an extremely expensive competition. She also said if Sandy Murman chooses not to seek re-election to her Hillsborough County Commission District 1 seat, she’d be extremely interested.

Murman has stated she’s looking hard at running against Young in the state Senate District 18 seat. If she were to run for that legislative seat, District 1 would become an open seat this fall.

“I would say I’m going to look into it, but it’s not really likely I’d do either,” Mulhern said.

Mulhern’s former colleague on City Council, District 2 Councilwoman Yolie Capin, says the only seat that she’s thinking about running for is Murman’s District 1 county commission seat, and she says she’ll decide within the next few weeks whether she will pursue that contest.

“If I’m headed anywhere, that’s where I’m going,” Capin said, indicating no interest in running for any legislative seat. “There’s a lot of potential movement, which I was not expecting at all, and I don’t think anyone else was either.”

On Friday, Tampa City Councilman Harry Cohen acknowledged that he was contemplating a run for the Democratic nomination for HD 60 seat being vacated by Young, saying,”I’m going to look at it.”

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 mitch.perry@floridapolitics.com.

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