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Incumbents Fend off Challengers in State House Races

August 31, 2016 - 12:00am
Lorrane Ausley, Reggie Fullwood and Joe Gruters
Lorrane Ausley, Reggie Fullwood and Joe Gruters

Under federal indictment, state Rep. Reggie Fullwood was one of nine state House incumbents who successfully turned back primary challengers Tuesday.

Fullwood, a Jacksonville Democrat who is facing an October trial on wire-fraud and tax-related charges stemming from the alleged misuse of campaign funds, had about 45.3 percent of the vote to Tracie Davis' 42.5 percent with all precincts reporting in Duval County's House District 13. In the November general election, he will face Republican Mark Griffin, who won the GOP primary for the seat.

Fullwood was one of five Democratic incumbents facing primary challenges.

Rep. John Cortes, a Kissimmee Democrat, beat two Democratic challengers, including former state Rep. Ricardo Rangel, another Kissimmee Democrat. Cortes knocked Rangel out of the House District 43 seat in the 2014 primary. On Tuesday, he beat Rangel and Sara Shaw, with nearly 42 percent of the vote to about 29 percent each for Shaw and Rangel, according to preliminary results..

Also in the Orlando area, Rep. Bruce Antone beat Sheena Meade in House District 46, winning more than 60 percent of the vote.

In South Florida, two Democratic incumbents, David Richardson of Miami Beach and Barbara Watson of Miami Gardens, easily turned back primary challengers in House Districts 113 and 107. Richardson faces a Republican challenger in November.

Four incumbent House Republicans turned back challenges, including Rep. Brad Drake, an Eucheeanna Republican, who easily beat former state Rep. Bev Kilmer in a House District 5 primary, winning about 74 percent of the vote. Drake will face former state Rep. Jamey Westbrook, who is running as a no-party candidate, in the November election.

Republican Reps. Elizabeth Porter of Lake City, Charlie Stone of Ocala and Jennifer Sullivan of Mount Dora easily defeated challengers in House Districts 10, 22 and 31, respectively. Porter will face Democrat Jerry Bullard in November, while Sullivan will face Robert Rightmyer, a no-party candidate.

Rep. Rene "Coach P" Plasencia, an Orlando Republican, switched seats for this year's election and edged George Collins by a little more than 500 votes in the GOP primary in House District 50, which includes portions of Orange and Brevard counties. Plasencia faces Democrat Sean Ashby in the November election.

Rep. Joe Gruters, a Sarasota Republican who co-chairs Donald Trump's presidential campaign in Florida, narrowly turned back a primary challenge from Steve Vernon in House District 73. Gruters faces James Golden in November.

Tuesday's primary elections were a mixed bag for former House members seeking to return to the chamber.

Sen. Thad Altman, a Rockledge Republican who formerly served in the House, won a four-way GOP race in House District 52 in Brevard County.

In Miami-Dade County, former U.S. Rep. David Rivera, a Miami Republican and former state House budget chairman, held a narrow lead over Anthony Rodriguez in five-way primary for House District 118. If Rivera holds on, he will face Democrat Robert Asencio in November.

Former Rep. Loranne Ausley, a Tallahassee Democrat, easily won the primary in House District 9. She will face Republican Jim Messer in November.

Other former House members didn't fare as well on Tuesday. In addition to Kilmer, former Reps. Don Gaffney, a Jacksonville Democrat, Terry Fields, a Jacksonville Democrat, Stan Jordan, a Jacksonville Republican, and Dick Kravitz, a Jacksonville Republican, all lost primary bids.

Among the highly watched primaries, Chuck Clemons beat Wenda Lewis in a battle of Alachua County Republicans vying in House District 21. Clemons will face Democrat Marihelen Wheeler in November.

Emily Slosberg, daughter of state Rep. Irv Slosberg, appeared to be on her way to winning House District 91, with a narrow victory over former Rep. Kelly Skidmore in Palm Beach County.

Palatka Republican Bobby Payne beat Leslie Dougher, a former state GOP chairwoman, and Katherine Van Zant, the wife of outgoing Rep. Charles Van Zant, in the primary for House District 19, which includes Putnam, Bradford and Union counties and part of Clay County. Payne will face Democrat Hubert "Joe" Snodgrass in November.

Sean Shaw, a former state insurance consumer advocate and son of the late Supreme Court Justice Leander Shaw, had a narrow win in a three-way race in House District 61 in Tampa.


Incumbents or incompetents, looks like the same old same old leading us to destruction.

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