Gwen Myers will advance to the November General Election after defeating four Democrat opponents for a chance at Hillsborough County Commission’s District 3 seat.
Myers earned 26.67% of the vote, narrowly followed by former Tampa City Council member Thomas Scott with 25.77%.
The ballot for the nomination was crowded — five Democrats were looking to secure the spot for the left-leaning district.
Myers was just able to earn enough votes to become the nominee.
Leading up to the primaries, Myers was the second highest fundraiser, following Scott with $54,929 in contributions — Scott raised $98,560 since the start of his campaign.
Myers is a civic activist and retired Hillsborough County official, as well as a first-time candidate. She qualified for the election by petition in early August rather than paying a filing fee.
Myers faced opponents with high name recognition in the area, making her victory a bit of a twist.
Scott, a local pastor, previously served on the County Commission from 1996 to 2006 and on the Tampa City Council from 2007 to 2011. In 2015, Gov. Rick Scott appointed him to the Elections Commission.
Frank Reddick, who was also on the ballot, came to the race with local name recognition, previously serving on Tampa City Council in District 5. The two districts largely overlap and include downtown and east Tampa.
Reddick nearly matched Myers’ spending at a little over $33,500; however, Reddick raised about $5,000 less.
Candidates Rick Fernandez and Sky White earned 13.84% and 21.09% of the vote, respectively.
Fernandez, a late entrant to the race, raised $40,727, and White raised $29,596. Fernandez has spent $28,660 and White has spent $19,335. White, a nurse, brought support from the local progressive wing of Democrats.
Fernandez caused a stir when he entered the race as the only non-Black candidate, as the seat has historically represented a predominately Black community. Community activists feared Fernandez’s election would lead to no Black member on the Hillsborough County Commission.
The new nominee will take on Republican Maura Cruz Lanz in the Nov. 3 General Election, although the district has a heavy left lean.
The winner in November will replace current Commission Chair Les Miller, who was first elected in 2010. Miller, who has been a public servant in Florida for more than 50 years, is retiring.
The district includes downtown Tampa, Ybor City, West Tampa and parts of Seminole Heights, some of the most liberal parts of the county.
The district is made up of about 94,990 Democrats and just 26,996 Republicans, according to the Hillsborough Supervisor of Elections. Republicans stand little chance in the district. With just over 49,000 independent or third-party voters in the district, Republicans can’t even count on those votes to bridge the voter registration gap.
The donor class might recognize that. Lanz has struggled to keep up with Democrats in campaign cash.
She has so far raised just $16,646 and has less than half of that still on hand.