Ronda Storms was in Valrico on Aug. 14 to watch the returns that signaled her victorious bid to become the Republican candidate in the 2012 race for Hillsborough County Property Appraiser.
At the Cheddar Biscuit restaurant in the Plaza Bella shopping center off Bloomingdale Avenue and Bell Shoals Road, Storms said she sees the electorate as "very engaged" as she learned of her solid showing against her Republican opponent, and incumbent candidate, Rob Turner.
Storms soundly defeated Turner with 70.2 percent of the 56,065 votes cast at all of Hillsborough's 347 precincts. Turner received 16,709 votes.
"They're paying attention, they're frustrated, and they want people to be who they say they are," Storms said of this year's electorate. Her aim, she added, is to bring "professional responsibility and integrity" to her task as property appraiser.
But first Storms has to run in November against Democrat Bob Enriquez and two candidates with no party affiliation — James DeMio and Rob Townsend.
Storms said she decided to switch races on May 23, her daughter's birthday, after she read at the beach a newspaper account of Turner's sexting scandal. At the time Storms had filed her intentions to seek reelection to her District 24 seat in the state Senate.
"I liked the Senate, it was the easier thing for me to do, to serve in the Senate," she said. "For me, though, it really was a sense of outrage and frustration for what the voters deserve."
Storms was at Cheddar Biscuit, watching the Primary Election returns, when she learned that Tom Lee had defeated Rachel Burgin in his bid to become the Republican candidate for the state Senate seat Storms is vacating.
She said after making her decision to leave the Senate she called Burgin, Lee, Rich Glorioso and Shawn Harrison, to let them know of her intent, in case they were interested in running for her seat.
Glorioso, who is leaving his state House seat because of term limits, said he considered the Senate race and discussed the issue with his wife over the course of four of five days. He opted to stay in the race for Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections.
As a Republican, he had no primary opposition. In November, he faces Democrat Craig Latimer, the office's current chief of staff, who defeated Thomas Scott in the Aug. 14 primary with 52.76 percent of the vote. Latimer got 22,528 votes against Scott's 20,167 tally.
As for the Senate race, Storms said she did not take sides. "I stayed out of the race," she said.
Now, she will clearly be in support of Lee, who, like Storms, graduated from Brandon High School, where her father-in-law, Nat, the first honorary mayor of Brandon, taught agricultural education.
Lee is "a person of experience," Storms said. "He knows what he is doing."