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Phil Hornback confident he can oust Lawrence McClure in HD 58

Phil Hornback and his wife, Sara, left teaching to become a Realtor because, he said, of the low pay low pay to educators in Florida. They both still have no health insurance since leaving teaching.

Hornback said he is more concerned about the others in House District 58 who have low paying jobs and no health insurance. The Seffner resident who refers to himself as a “Blue Collar Democrat” has been running for the seat since May.

He was a mason and owned a masonry business for 20 years before selling it and going to college for bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education. He has been endorsed by unions and local teacher groups.

A lot of people have written off Hornback, except Hornback.

He said he and his staff have worked through all the cities within the district and rural areas and visited black, Hispanic and Muslim communities and gatherings as well.

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Friday, the campaign had scheduled visits to 200 homes along with other locations to knock on doors or to visit.

“Our face-to-face is going to pull us through,” he said.

He is running against incumbent Lawrence McClure, who was elected to District 58 in a special election Dec. 1, 2107, receiving 54 Percent of the vote in a four-way race against a Democrat, Libertarian and an independent.

McClure replaced Republican Rep. Dan Raulerson, who retired for health reasons on Aug. 15, 2017.

He had earlier defeated Yvonne Fry in the Republican Primary in a controversial campaign in which Fry charged that she was a victim of false campaign attack ads.

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Hornback said he has not seen any negative ads against him from the McClure campaign.

McClure was seated in time for the 2018 session of the Florida House and served as a member of the Public Integrity & Ethics Committee and the Ways & Means Committee.

He has a much larger campaign war chest than Hornback, but not as much as many incumbents, likely because many big contributors believe he is the likely winner.

McClure had $84,464 banked to Hornback’s $22,082 at the end of the Nov. 1 campaign finance reporting period.

Hornback’s staff complained that the newspaper of record for the area had written little about the race, mentioning neither Hornback or McClure, possibly because of a foregone conclusion of how this highly conservative and Republican district may go for the incumbent.

But the Hornback camp is reporting what other Democratic candidates in races where the state party has not targeted them for help, that early voting turnout among registered Democrats is up.

The campaign, basing its calculations on the Florida Chamber of Commerce’s “Early Voting Dashboard” believe Democrats are turning out in early voting in District 58 at a far greater pace than years past.

“Every day we are only about 200 or up to 300 less than Republican early votes and in a conservative district, that bodes well once independents and those going to the precincts are counted,” Hornback said.

Youth early voting in two precincts abutting the University of South Florida has doubled over the turnout in 2016, an aide said.

HD 58 covers eastern Hillsborough County, running from Temple Terrace to Plant City. It is a rural and suburban mix.

Written By

Former Ledger of Lakeland columnist Bill Rufty is Central Florida political correspondent for SaintPetersBlog and Florida Politics. Rufty had been with the Ledger from 1985-2015, where, as political editor, he covered a wide range of beats, including local and state politics, the Lakeland City Commission, and the Florida Legislature. Ledger editor Lenore Devore said about Rufty’s 30-year career: “[He is] a man full of knowledge, a polling expert and a war history buff … who has a steel trap in his brain, remembering details most of us have long since forgotten.”

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