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Sandra Murman will challenge Pat Kemp in incumbent on incumbent battle for Hillsborough County Commission

Murman’s decision ends months of speculation.

Hillsborough County Commissioner Sandra Murman ended speculation about her political future Thursday. The longtime commissioner filed and qualified to run in District 6.

She’ll face incumbent Democrat Pat Kemp, assuming she doesn’t have to wage a primary campaign in the race. Republican Jim Davison is filed to run, but has not yet qualified. He has until Friday at noon to do so.

Kemp has already qualified for reelection.

Until Thursday Murman had been filed to run for Hillsborough County Clerk of the Courts, but wasn’t expected to actually seek the seat. She had about $134,000 parked in that race, all of which she transferred to the County Commission race.

Her entrance sets up what will likely be a heated and competitive race between two incumbents.

Murman has been on the County Commission since 2010, bunking term limits by swapping seats. She didn’t have anyone to swap with this cycle and instead will attempt to unseat Kemp who is completing her first term after first being elected in 2016.

Kemp has so far raised a little over $70,000 in the race and has about $65,000 of that left on hand.

District 6 is a countywide seat. The county favors Democrats over Republicans, 350,654 to 276,464, but there are another 258,688 no party or third party affiliated voters, setting up a competitive contest.

Murman will likely have access to a deep pool of party and special interest money, while Kemp has historically relied on grassroots support to fuel her campaigns. Her 2016 victory came after previous unsuccessful attempts including in 2014.

Florida Politics reached out to both candidates and will update this story if we receive a response.

Kemp’s campaign will likely pit her as a pro-transportation, anti-sprawl candidate who stands in stark contrast to Murman’s track record on issues siding with developers and voting against transportation initiatives pre-2018.

Though Murman is likely to counter that messaging with her more recent support for the All For Transportation sales tax and efforts she led to set aside county money for transportation projects.

Janelle Irwin Taylor has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in Tampa Bay since 2003. Most recently, Janelle reported for the Tampa Bay Business Journal. She formerly served as senior reporter for WMNF News. Janelle has a lust for politics and policy. When she’s not bringing you the day’s news, you might find Janelle enjoying nature with her husband, children and two dogs. You can reach Janelle at Janelle@floridapolitics.com.

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