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Candidates have deadline Friday to qualify for ballot

­­— Noon next Friday will be the last chance for candidates to qualify for the fall elections, so this time next week you’ll know the people and issues you’ll face on the ballot.

Some who have filed already won’t qualify, and some may still file in the next seven days, but most of the picture already has emerged in the Aug. 26 primary and Nov. 4 general election.

Hillsborough County voters will help choose a governor, U.S. House members, state legislators, county commissioners, judges and other local officeholders and help decide three proposed amendments to the state constitution — legalizing medical use of marijuana; setting up a funding source for state purchases of environmental preservation land; and clarifying who appoints a new state Supreme Court justice when the justice’s term ends at the same time as the governor’s.

Here’s a rundown so far.


At the top of the November ballot, some county voters will see congressional races and some won’t.

U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Tampa, whose district includes most of the city and parts of South Shore and southern St. Petersburg, is unopposed and won’t be on the ballot.

The same goes for U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis, R-Palm Harbor, whose district includes Pasco, northern Pinellas and northwestern Hillsborough.

In the 15th Congressional District, which includes most of the eastern half of Hillsborough County, Rep. Dennis Ross, R-Lakeland, faces a challenge from a former investigative reporter for a local television station, Democrat Alan Cohn.

In the 17th Congressional District, which includes parts of southern Hillsborough County, Rep. Tom Rooney, R-Okeechobee, will see another challenge from the Democrat he easily defeated in 2012, Will Bronson of Lehigh Acres.

Statewide races

Next on the ballot for all voters in Florida will be races for governor and three state Cabinet seats — attorney general, agriculture commissioner and chief financial officer.

In the governor’s race, Republican Gov. Rick Scott is seeking re-election, and seven lesser-known Republicans have filed. Democrats Charlie Crist and Nan Rich are the best known of eight Democrats filed for the nomination to oppose him.

Other currently active candidates include Libertarian Adrian Wyllie and 19 minor party, no-party and write-in candidates.

In the race for attorney general, George Sheldon and Perry Thurston are vying for the Democratic nomination, and Libertarian Bill Wohlsifer has filed, to challenge incumbent Republican Pam Bondi.

For agriculture commissioner, Democrat Thaddeus Hamilton has filed to challenge incumbent Republican Adam Putnam.

For chief financial officer, Democrat William Rankin has filed to challenge Republican incumbent Jeff Atwater.

State Legislature

Three of the five state senators who represent at least part of Hillsborough County are up for election this year, but so far, only one has drawn an opponent. Sen. Jeff Brandes faces a challenge from Democrat Judithanne McLauchlan in District 22, which includes south Tampa and part of southern Pinellas County.

Nine state House districts include at least part of Hillsborough County, but in four, incumbents are so far unopposed. Districts with candidates filed for either primary or general election contests are:

♦ District 57, southeastern Hillsborough: Republican incumbent Jake Raburn and Republican challenger Joseph Leo Sykes.

♦ District 59, parts of Brandon, Valrico, Palm River and Progress Village: Republican incumbent Ross Spano and Democratic challenger Donna Lee Fore.

♦ District 61, parts of central and east Tampa and the University area: Four Democrats seeking an open seat — Edwin Aubron Narain, Sean Michael Shaw, Sharon Carter and Tatiana M. Denson.

♦ District 63, parts of New Tampa: Democratic incumbent Mark Danish and GOP challenger Shawn Harrison.

♦ District 70, South St. Petersburg and parts of Ruskin and northwestern Manatee County: Incumbent Democrat Darryl Rouson, Republican Sharon Russ and no-party candidate Philip Garrett.

County Commission

Four seats on the Hillsborough County Commission are up for election this year, but no candidate has yet filed to challenge Republican Ken Hagan in District 5, countywide. In the others:

♦ District 2, most of northern Hillsborough: Democrat Elizabeth Belcher has filed to challenge incumbent Republican Victor Crist.

♦ District 4, east Hillsborough and parts of South County: Republicans Rick Cochran, a former Tampa police detective; Stacy White, a pharmacist and county school board member; Janet Dougherty, a businesswoman and former board member of the Southwest Florida Water Management District; and Lela Lilyquist, a businesswoman and director of a nonprofit organization that provides food and self-help programs for the homeless; and write-in candidate Christopher Lawrence Weaver.

♦ District 7, countywide: Republican candidates are Al Higginbotham, who currently holds the District 4 seat, Tampa businesswoman Robin Lester and Tampa businessman Don Kruse. Democrats are Pat Kemp, a lawyer and former chair of the county Democratic Executive Committee, and Mark Nash, a former businessman and political consultant.

School board

In Hillsborough County school board races, 15 candidates have filed for three seats.

♦ District 2, southwest Hillsborough: Day care owner Sally Harris, parent Michelle Popp Shimberg and former Freedom High School teacher Michael Weston.

♦ District 4, much of eastern Hillsborough: Conservative religious activist Terry Kemple, Army veteran and certified teacher Dee Prether and insurance agent Melissa Snively.

♦ District 6, countywide: Incumbent April Griffin; University of South Florida professor Stacy Hahn, parent Paula Meckley, attorney Dipa Shah, Green Party founder Randy Toler, Hillsborough Community College student Asher Edelson, Temple Terrace City Councilwoman Alison McGillivray Fernandez and Lee Sierra, who works in real estate.


There will be four contested circuit judge races and one contested county court race in Hillsborough:

♦ Former Tampa City Councilman John Dingfelder is running against Carl C. Hinson and Barbara Twine Thomas for the Group 8 circuit judgeship.

♦Former state Rep. Michael Scionti will face Michael John Brannigan for the Group 19 circuit judgeship.

♦Former prosecutor Karen Stanley will face Laura Ward for the Group 20 circuit judgeship.

♦Robert Bauman, Constance Daniels and Melissa “Missy” Polo will compete for the Group 34 circuit judgeship.

♦Norman S. Cannella Jr. and Chris Nash will compete for the Group 12 county judgeship.

In other judicial races, three justices from the Florida 2nd District Court of Appeal will be on the ballot for yes-or-no merit retention votes — Chris W. Altenbernd, Morris Silberman and Daniel H. Sleet.

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