Well, we in Polk County already know for the most part the results of our primary election, JUST OVER TWO HOURS after the polls closed! While our neighbours in Hillsborough only have slightly over ten percent of the results announced, the Polk SOE office has 94% of the results.
The results show a couple of things: There will be some major changes on the Polk County Commission, and the voters --- even the Democrats --- have decidedly shown their more conservative face today.
SHERIFF: No real surprise here. Grady Judd, the number two man in the Sheriff's Office and retiring top lawman Lawrence Crow's hand picked successor, easily won over two opponents. Judd had the advantage of being the media face of the PCSO during the past year-plus as part of Crow's plan to familiarize the voters with him.
COUNTY COMMISSION: One incumbant, District 1 Republican Don Gifford, lost his re-election bid in his party primary to political newcomer Bob English. He'll face Democrat Mark D. Hopkins (no Web site) in November. District 4 caretaker Paul Senft (no Web site), who was appointed by Jeb! to fill the unexpired term of the late Charles Richardson (and who promised the Gov not to run for the seat but did so anyway), won the Republican nomination over two opponents with 40 percent; Jean Reed will be his Democratic opponent November 2.
Meanwhile in District 5 there were crowded races in both party primaries to fill the spot Neil Combee is leaving as he retires. Republican public school administrator Sam Johnson will meet Democrat John Thomas Fennell, a minister, in November (Neither have Web sites). Both are newcomers. Fennell is the African-American minister of a predominately white Disciples of Christ congregation in Lakeland
SCHOOL BOARD: Two incumbants, Frank O'Reilly (no Web site) and Brenda Reddout, won easy reelection to their seats, which are nonpartisan. O'Reilly switched to the Republican party a couple of years ago, and Reddout was a major advocate of school uniforms, which was a divisive issue in Polk County and caused some litigation which included the ACLU. There will be one runoff, in District 2 as Lori Cunningham will face off against Lynn Wilson. Cunningham had 43 percent of the vote against Wilson's 32
U.S. SENATE: On the Republican side, Polk County went decidedly toward Mel Martinez with 43 percent of the vote, followed by Bill McCollum with 33 percent. Among Democrats, Polk is Betty Castor country, as the former USF President received 61 percent. Peter Deutsch came in second with 25 percent.
U.S. HOUSE: The conservative streak showed on the Democratic side here, as Bob Hagenmeier will be the D's nominee against Republican incumbant Adam Putnam. Hagenmeier defeated Jeff Seimer in Polk by ten percent with his decidedly more conservative lean on some social issues. Putnam had only token opposition, not much to worry about.
TO BE HONEST WITH YOU: Hagenmaier is gonna have to REALLY convince me of a reason to vote for him in November. Now, I am a really good, lifelong Democrat and have worked for Democrats...but a number of Bob's views are simply different from many of my beliefs. I certainly won't vote for Putnam! But I need to know why to support or work for Bob Hagenmaier. Someone please convince me!