Three Tampa-based Republicans will face off Tuesday for a chance at the GOP nomination for House District 65.
The roster features former education administrator Karen Gonzalez Pittman, business owner Jake Hoffman and lawyer Michael Minardi.
The candidates are racing to take the competitive Hillsborough County seat, which closely resembles the current House District 60 represented by Tampa Republican Rep. Jackie Toledo, who is running for Congress. Toledo has endorsed Pittman as her preferred successor.
While the contest for HD 65 has been on the tamer side compared to some Tampa Bay races, it has not been without controversy.
Hoffman, who has served for the past three years as president of the Tampa Bay Young Republicans, made headlines in July for some questionable spending habits after seeking and receiving over $400,000 in forgiven PPP loans during the pandemic.
Both Pittman and Hoffman have been the subjects of attacks, with each accused of being liberal. In a video posted to Hoffman’s campaign Facebook page, Pittman is shown at a debate recalling her time as a Democrat years ago, in which she was called a “liberal fascist.” Attack ads have also been put out on Hoffman that criticize his past political positions.
Pittman, who now operates a vein care clinic with her physician husband, is the leading fundraiser, raising $196,702 and providing $11,000 in self-funding, giving her $207,702 total. Hoffman follows, having collected $50,622 in donations between his campaign and affiliated political committee, Tampa Conservation Foundation. He has also provided $50,200 in self-funding, bringing his total to $100,822. Minardi comes in third, having amassed $43,275 since launching his campaign.
The winner of the Republican Primary will go on to face Democrat Jen McDonald — and may face a challenge in trying to keep the seat red.
While the newly crafted Hillsborough County seat closely resembles current House District 60, HD 65 covers southern Hillsborough County and has a Democratic lean. In 2020, 51.28% of the district went to President Joe Biden, while only 47.19% went to former President Donald Trump.
August 21, 2022 at 12:45 pm
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