Republicans largely delivered for Bush and GOP candidates outside Tampa city limits, while Democrats took the city.
By CHRISTOPHER GOFFARD
© St. Petersburg Times, published November 9, 2000
TAMPA -- A core of Democratic voters within Tampa's city limits proved stalwart for Al Gore in Tuesday's election, but George W. Bush's tremendous popularity in the sprawling outlying suburbs delivered Hillsborough County to the Republican presidential nominee.
Mike Scionti, head of the Hillsborough Democratic Party, said he wasn't surprised by Gore's strong showing in the city of Tampa, nor by Bush's dominance in areas such as Sun City, Ruskin, Seffner, Brandon and Valrico, where the Republican swept most precincts.
"We have trouble piercing (the area)," Scionti said. "We just didn't get a lot of support in the county."
Democrats and Republicans split South Tampa and Plant City. While Democrats did well in areas with large blocks of minority voters, such as Roland Park and Progress Village, Republicans prevailed in the New Tampa area.
Margie Kincaid, head of the Hillsborough Republican Party, said the party was counting on the suburbs, describing Sun City Center, where Bush got more than twice as many votes as Gore, as "the biggest nest of Republican voters there is."
Suburban homeowners and transplants from out of state form a substantial and counted-on Republican voting block, she said. "Our strength is in the county," she said. "We carried the county for Bush."
While the results of the U.S. Senate race between Democrat Bill Nelson and Republican Bill McCollum showed a similar breakdown to the presidential race, with the city going to the Democrats and the suburbs to the GOP, voters in unincorporated areas did not pound Nelson as relentlessly as they did Gore, allowing the Democrat to win the county by a 5 percent margin.
A proposed high-speed rail won approval in Hillsborough with 54 percent of the voters, including strong support in Tampa. Pockets of naysayers cropped up in such outlying areas as Dover, Plant City, Valrico and Brandon, where opposition to the train carried several precincts.
Voters did not follow any obvious geographic patterns in striking down proposed amendments to jettison term limits for the Tampa mayor, with 58 percent rejecting it. A proposal to kill term limits for the City Council fared even worse, with 68 percent saying no.