Mark Sharpe Suspends Congressional Campaign

Mark Sharpe will not run for Congress, after all. For now, anyway.

Speaking on Tampa radio station 1470 AM-WMGG with Republican political consultant and blogger Chris Ingram, Sharpe said he would not end his campaign to run for the District 11 seat currently held by Democrat Kathy Castor, but instead suspend it. He said he might re-enter the race after the courts decide on the newly drawn legislative and congressional districts voted on yesterday by the Florida Senate (the Democrats have already filed suit, and a number of other groups say they will file litigation when and if Governor Rick Scott signs the legislation).

“My hope was that the redistricting effort would create a competitive map where I could run a race that would be worthy of the district..where I could raise money and spend it wisely, and a race where we would have a chance of winning,” he told Ingram.

“The way the map has been gerrymandered, it still makes it nearly impossible to have a good competitive race.”

The Hillsborough County Commissioner announced last August in a much covered press conference at Tampa’s Buddy Brew coffee shop that in fact he would enter the race for the Republican race for Congress in District 11, where he hoped to take on Castor this fall.

Though Sharpe says the outlines of the newly drawn District 11 make it too hard for a Republican to be viable, the lines drawn by the GOP-led Legislature in Tallahassee aren’t that dissimilar than when Sharpe announced his candidacy last summer.

District 11 contains much of Hillsborough County, but also dips into South St. Petersburg and even into Manatee County, gerrymandered to boost a Democrat. Though one might wonder why Republicans would want to make a district as Democratic as possible, the fact is those lines take away more Democratic votes that would go into Republican Bill Young’s District 10 seat in Pinellas County, as well as Republican Vern Buchanan’s District 13 seat in Sarasota/Manatee.

Sharpe ran and lost three times for the seat in the 1990s — twice to then incumbent Democrat Sam Gibbons in 1992 and 1994 (coming close that year when Republicans, led by Newt Gingrich, took over the House), and then to Jim Davis in 1996.

He left politics until 2004, when he won his race as a Republican for the Hillsborough County Commission, and was re-elected in 2006 and again in 2010, and currently makes $94,000 a year in his job.

Source: Daily Loaf