Considered a toss-up going into Tuesday night, Kemp is leading Nash 65-35 percent, and with 283 of 347 precincts reporting, actually was taking in more votes than her GOP opponent in November, current District 4 County Commissioner Al Higginbotham.
"It feels wonderful," Kemp told CL from her party at the Independent in Seminole Heights. "I'm especially pleased I'll have more votes than Al Higginbotham. It's a great statement that people want change."
Kemp said that Nash had just recently called her to wish her congratulations and said that he will be working hard to support her in November. The two had been having a relatively positive campaign until the last 10 days, when Nash sent out a hard-hitting mailer that blasted Kemp as being an ineffective Democratic Party chair in Hillsborough back in 2010.
But Kemp was feeling too good to focus on that Tuesday night, saying she thought the mailer had little overall impact, though it undoubtedly turned some undecided Democrats over to her camp, based on comments on social media.
The 57-year-old Kemp has never held public office, having lost in a bitter Democratic primary against Janet Cruz for a special House seat back in January of 2010. She's previously worked for state representative Sara Romeo and then County Commissioner Kathy Castor, and has worked at public radio stations WUSF and WMNF over the years.
She realizes it's not going to be easy going up against Higginbotham, who is term limited out of his Eastern Hillsborough District 4 seat and is now running countywide for the first time in District 7. "It's a big lift," she admits, joking that she was begin working on the general campaign starting later on Tuesday.
Higginbotham was cruising Tuesday night, easily defeating his three GOP opponents with 66 percent of the vote. Tim Schock was in second place with 16 percent; Robin Lester had 11 percent and Don Kruse 7 percent.
Environmental activist Pat Kemp is flush with momentum over her stunning defeat of Mark Nash in the District 7 Hillsborough County Commission Democratic Primary Tuesday night.