Democrat to challenge Johnson for elections post

08/29/07 Mitch E. Perry
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A relative unknown in Hillsborough Democratic politics announced today that he is running next year to try to defeat Supervisor of Elections Buddy Johnson.

Lee Nelson, 30, has lived in Hillsborough County for five years, which is nearly as long as Johnson has held the job. Johnson was selected by then-Gov. Jeb Bush to replace Pam Iorio, who quit the position to run for mayor of Tampa in early 2003.

Johnson’s tenure has been a controversial one. There have reports of giving handsome severance checks to fired employees, uncounted votes on election nights and charges by one citizens group that Johnson was neglectful in counting signed petitions during early voting.

During a speech announcing his candidacy at a Town 'N Country library, Nelson hammered away at Johnson and some of the issues his office has encountered over the years.

But Johnson is well-known. Three years ago he defeated Democrat Rob McKenna by more than 10 percentage points.

Johnson said he’s not about to engage in a rhetorical war with a potential opponent just yet for a election that's 14 months away.

Nelson, who lost to Trey Treviasa in the House Distruct 56 race last year, is the first Democrat to announce he is running against Johnson.

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