Karen Gonzalez Pittman takes South Tampa House seat

mcDonald pittman
The district will stay in GOP hands.

Karen Gonzalez Pittman has taken South Tampa’s House District 65, defeating Democratic challenger Jen McDonald.

Former education administrator Pittman received 53.86% of the vote, while local business owner McDonald earned 46.14%, with all precincts reporting according to the Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections Office. 

The seat closely resembles current House District 60 represented by Tampa Republican Rep. Jackie Toledo, who ran unsuccessfully for Congress. But redistricting made it a much more competitive district, with only a slight Republican advantage.

Pittman, a Republican, was successful in keeping the seat red. Toledo endorsed Pittman as her successor

Although the district has a Republican advantage of about 5,000 voters, residents in the district have shown they are willing to cross party lines. In 2020, 51% of the district went to President Joe Biden, while only 47% went to former President Donald Trump. The 2020 statistics also show nonpartisan voters in the district may lean Democratic. By the numbers, HD 65 is made up of 45,267 registered Republicans, 40,094 registered Democrats and 36,518 nonpartisan or third-party voters, according to the most recent L2 voter data.

As for funding, the two were neck-and-neck.

Pittman narrowly bested McDonald in fundraising, amassing $318,272, as well as $10,000 in self-funding. McDonald, on the other hand, collected $307,043 between her campaign and affiliated political committee, Bright Future Tampa Bay.

McDonald started the General Election cycle with a strong cash-on-hand advantage, a result of having no Primary challenger. Pittman, however, had to dip into her purse to win the contentious GOP Primary, entering the cycle with only $12,493 in cash-on-hand, but gradually regaining her strength throughout September and October.

Pittman became the GOP nominee after a narrow victory in a three-way Republican Primary, in which she defeated her closest competitor, Jake Hoffman, 44%-43%. The pair each became the subjects of attacks, with accusations of each being too liberal spewed across campaign ads.

The pair each picked up notable endorsements. Pittman, who currently operates a vein care clinic with her physician husband, earned backing from the Florida Chamber of Commerce, the National Rifle Association and Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister. McDonald has earned endorsements from La Gaceta, the Tampa Bay Times, the Service Employees International Union and U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor.

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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