Incumbents keeping seats on Hillsborough commission

Charlie Crist may not have been a winner in Florida, but another unrelated Crist will stay in elected office in Hillsborough County as Victor Crist won re-election to the county commission.

Crist defeated Democrat Elizabeth Belcher 56 percent to 44 percent to get another four years in Hillsborough. However, the race was a lot closer for Crist’s colleague, Al Higginbotham, who defeated Democrat Patricia Kemp 50.5 percent to 40.6 percent. Higginbotham had 3,000 more votes than his competitor, compared to a 12,000-vote win by Crist.

Higginbotham was just beyond the threshold that would’ve triggered a machine recount of votes, despite winning with less than a 1 percent margin of victory.

Joining the commission is Republican Stacy White, who easily beat a write-in candidate, to take Higginbotham’s old seat. Higginbotham will take over the county-wide seat formerly held by Mark Sharpe.

For state Rep. Shawn Harrison will return to Tallahassee after defeating Democratic incumbent Mark Danish 53 percent to 47 percent. James Grant will keep his House seat, however, beating fellow Republican Miriam Steinberg 61-39.

Hillsborough followed the rest of the state by overwhelmingly passing a state constitutional amendment that would help Florida conserve more environmentally sensitive land. However, the county also defeated medical marijuana and a change in how the governor can appoint state supreme court judges.

Hillsborough also was one of the few counties in Central Florida to support Charlie Crist for governor. Crist captured 48 percent of the vote in the county, while Rick Scott earned 46 percent.

In the congressional race, Dennis Ross won re-election against his Democratic challenger, former television personality Alan Cohn.

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