Pat Kemp, Sandra Murman spend big in incumbent-on-incumbent match-up

Kemp has an edge in the polls and in voter registration.

As the clock ticks down to Nov. 3, Democratic incumbent Pat Kemp and fellow Hillsborough County Commissioner Sandra Murman are spending big in hopes to reclaim or claim the District 6 seat.

Kemp, who currently holds the District 6 seat, raised $8,762 in the most recent period, spanning Oct. 3 through Oct. 16. This report follows her highest fundraising period, where the incumbent brought in $75,179 — including a $35,000 Democratic Party donation.

Republican challenger Murman, who currently holds the District 1 County Commission seat, saw a similar pattern, raising $23,150 this period following a record $63,460 fundraising period.

Both Murman and Kemp are spending big, with the race pitting incumbent against incumbent. Murman is leaving her District 1 seat due to term limits.

Kemp dished out $66,352, spending $50,000 alone on television advertising. Murman spent $112,220 in the same span, allocating $100,000 to media advertising.

The incumbent also spent big in the report prior, recording $105,111 in expenditures from Sept. 19 through Oct. 2. Murman, on the other hand, was more reserved in that same period, which directly followed a $201,043 spree. 

The aggressive spending from the two shows the competitiveness of the race, which will likely make it one of the most competitive down ballot races in Hillsborough County. It’s not often two incumbents share the same ballot.

Kemp has an edge of more than 73,000 voters, based on voter registration tallies, but Murman has served on the commission longer, potentially giving her access to broader name recognition. And the voter registration edge, while it seems large, only represents 8% of the county’s entire electorate. Independent voters more than fill that gap, representing 29% of the electorate.

Kemp’s primary source of donations this period was about 90 individuals, and a handful of political committees and businesses, including  Sierra Club Florida PAC and Florida Progressive Political Committee.

Murman had 48 donors, split between individuals and organizations, including several investment firms like Southshore Investments and Dickman Investments, as well as the Our Future Now PC.

With a week to go until Election Day, the candidates have nearly identical amounts of available spending money. As of Oct. 16, Kemp had $57,114 cash on hand, while Murman retained $56,031.

The Democrat does hold a four point lead over her Republican challenger, according to a recent St. Pete Polls survey.

Kemp’s lead in the District 6 race falls outside the poll’s 3.2% margin of error.

Still, 14% of voters were undecided less than three weeks from the Nov. 3 General Election.

The District 6 seat is countywide. Of Hillsborough County’s 913,699 voters359,568 are Democrats and 286,335 are Republicans. The county has an additional 267,796 third-party and non-affiliated voters. Of those partisan voters, 42% of Democrats are considered active — they’ve voted in at least one election in the past four years — compared to just 35% of Republican voters.

Murman has been on the County Commission since 2010, bucking 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 being first elected in 2016.

Kelly Hayes

Kelly Hayes studied journalism and political science at the University of Florida. Kelly was born and raised in Tampa Bay. A recent graduate, she enjoys government and legal reporting. She has experience covering the Florida Legislature as well as local government, and is a proud Alligator alum. You can reach Kelly at [email protected].


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