So until then, the excitement is with two GOP primaries; in District 2, incumbent Victor Crist is being challenged by Tea Party activist Sharon Calvert, and in District 6, Margaret Iuculano is going up against Don Kruse, with the winner to face Democrat Kevin Beckner in a county wide race.
On Tuesday night at a Tampa912 County Commission Candidate Forum at American Legion Post 5 on Kennedy Boulevard, the four Republicans discussed themselves and the issues for almost 90 minutes.
A day after the cities of Tampa and Gulfport began allowing allowing same-sex couples to register as domestic partners, the candidates were asked if they favored implementing such a policy in Hillsborough, where there is already a push to do so.
The only member of the current board, Victor Crist, said he would not favor such a system, saying, "Why don't we just own up to personal responsibility? If you want to make sure you're protected, it's up to you to get with a lawyer and sit down and do it yourself...why is it the government's role to do that for you?" He elicited cheers from the audience of approximately 75 people.
The only one of the four Republicans who supports a domestic registry was Kruse, who said the program was for all unmarried couples. "If your mate goes into a hospital, you can't get in there if they don't allow you to get in there. That domestic partner registry allows you to do that."
Kruse currently is president and CEO of Beauty and Health Institute in Westchase, an occupational training school that he started with his wife in 2006. Before that he worked as Sales Manager for Bill Currie Ford, where he toiled for more than 20 years. He was the only candidate to introduce legislation that he said he would try to push through the Commission if elected, describing his "PIWA Plan" (Property Improvements Without Assessments, which would allow all property owners within 24 hours to make improvements to their property without being assessed on it.)
Kruse is running against arch-conservative Margaret Iuculano, perhaps best known in the mainstream press for her over-the-top comments against Democrat Kevin Beckner in a campaign mailer last year, when she accused the openly gay commissioner of having a "San Francisco style agenda" for the county.
Iuculano only mentioned Beckner at the end of the forum, where she said she differed from him because of his "willingness" to raise taxes and spending. She also accused him of being "asleep" as a member of the Hillsborough County Children's Board, which recently was the focus of articles by the Tampa Bay Times for alleged mismanagement.
Saying that he hadn't gone to sleep in over 40 hours because of his newborn child, Victor Crist at times was not on his A-game in responding to questions. When asked about his recent proposal to have the county assist in developing a new cruise ship port on the other side of the Sunshine Skyway bridge in anticipation of the Tampa Bay Rays playing in Tampa, Crist blamed the media for its reporting on the issue. "One thing I learned in politics: Don't ever believe everything you read in print or see in the news, because only half of it is accurate. If you believe everything you read, then you think that Barack Obama was the coming of the next Christ."
He then discussed how Tampa will lose the cruise ship industry if it doesn't make some significant changes quickly, explaining that large cruise ships in the future will be too large to pass underneath the Skyway. As far as baseball, he maintained that all he has said was, "If we're going to make a pitch for their team, let's not go over there empty-handed..."
This being a Tea Party-sponsored event, the inevitable question about Agenda 21 was asked of the candidates about an hour into the forum.
Crist seemed determined not to be outflanked on his conservative credentials by Sharon Calvert. He said simply that if the issue was of such concern to those in the audience, he questioned why none of them, including Calvert, had ever come to him on the board to discuss those concerns.
Throughout the evening Calvert showed a sharp understanding of the issues, and didn't speak longer than necessary to get to her point. She hammered home the idea that the county needed less regulations and her own belief in the power of free markets.
On a couple of occasions, she referred to Crist's 20 years as a lawmaker in Tallahassee and now in Hillsborough County. "I believe that our founding fathers never thought that our elected officials would spend an entire career as an elected official. I'm a citizen, I'm not a politician."
Crist tried to deflect that, saying that his career was in advertising, and that serving in the state Legislature was simply his "passion." He boasted about the various pieces of legislation that he spearheaded in Tallahassee, and said his experience was what should give him the edge over his challenger. "The difference between myself and my opponent isn't the issues. We're the same on the issues," he boasted. "The primary difference is I have done it, I am doing it, and I will get it done."
In her opening remarks, Calvert talked about being a regular citizen (she worked for IBM for 20 years), before evolving like many others into a member of the Tea Party movement in 2009, initially fighting against President Obama's health care reform legislation.
She then was a key actor in leading the opposition to the light-rail proposal in Hillsborough County in 2010, and then took her show on the road the following spring as part of the group of conservative activists who emboldened Governor Rick Scott to reject federal funds from the Obama administration to build a high-speed rail line from Tampa to Orlando.
"We educated the public and we were very, very thankful that Governor Scott rejected that boondoggle, because we only have to look at California to see how that's faring."
And she said that she spearheaded another effort to have a ballot referendum that will require a financial impact statement for any future referendum in the County.
Margaret Iuculano talked about her personal struggles as a foster child, which is why she said she has been active in working with foster children in her professional career.
The primary takes place in seven weeks.