State House members graduate to Senate primary wins

- Republican state House members Doug Broxson and Kathleen Passidomo, along with Democratic Reps. Kevin Rader and Randolph Bracy, are ready to move to the Senate after primary victories Tuesday.

And Sens. Lizbeth Benacquisto, R-Fort Myers, and Jeff Clemens, D-Lake Worth, hung on against opponents who had poured personal money into campaigns to unseat the incumbents.

Those primary election winners have either no opposition or face only write-in candidates in the November general elections.

Other big state Senate primary winners Tuesday, who now advance to contested general election campaigns included Republican Reps. Debbie Mayfield of Vero Beach and Greg Steube of Sarasota, and Democratic Reps. Bobby Powell of West Palm Beach, Daphne Campbell of Miami and Victor Torres of Orlando.

Also, Sen. Dwight Bullard, D-Miami, won a fierce Democratic primary and will face Rep. Frank Artiles, R-Miami, in November.

Meanwhile, Republican Rep. Dennis Baxley of Ocala was slightly ahead of Rep. Maureen O'Toole of Lady Lake --- by about 600 votes at 11 p.m. --- and well in front of businessman David Gee in Central Florida's Senate District 12.

The winner goes up against a write-in candidate in the fall.

In another close contest, Democratic Rep. Darryl Rouson of St. Petersburg was up by fewer than 100 votes over Rep. Ed Narain in a four-way race to replace Senate Minority Leader Arthenia Joyner in Senate District 19.

"I am humbled and honored that the people have chosen me," Rouson said by phone Tuesday night. "I am anxious to begin serving Hillsborough and Pinellas the best I can, knowing that they trusted me to be effective."

The contest also included former Rep. Betty Reed of Tampa and Augie Ribeiro, a trial lawyer from St. Petersburg who pumped hundreds of thousands of dollars into his own campaign.

In the most-expensive Senate contest, Clemens overcame $1.878 million that Rep. Irv Slosberg, D-Boca Raton, sunk into trying to win the Senate District 31 seat.

Benaquisto outspent her election-night opponent Jason Maughan of Sanibel for the District 27 seat by nearly $100,000. However, Maughan put $200,000 of his own money into the contest.

The Republicans moving into the upper chamber after Tuesday each defeated a House colleague for an open seat.

Broxson, a Republican from Gulf Breeze, topped Rep. Mike Hill of Pensacola Beach in District 1 in the western Panhandle.

In the District 28 contest, in which both Naples Republican candidates spent more than $500,000, Passidomo upended Rep. Matt Hudson.

Mayfield, meanwhile, defeated House Rules Chairman Ritch Workman of Melbourne in a bitter race in Senate District 17.

Among the House Democrats moving into the Senate, Bracy of Orlando bettered Chuck O'Neal of Apopka, Bob Sindler of Apopka and former Rep. Gary Siplin of Orlando in Senate District 11.

And Rader of Boca Raton defeated Mindy Koch in Senate District 29.

In one of the most contentious contests, Powell easily defeated Michael Steinger, a trial lawyer from Palm Beach Gardens who sank $665,000 of his own money into the campaign.

Powell now faces Republican Ron Berman, a co-founder of the company that became Quicken Loans, in Senate District 30.

Steube topped a Republican field in Senate District 23 that included former Sarasota County Commissioner Nora Patterson, Rep. Ray Pilon, former state Rep. Doug Holder and businessman Rick Levine. All five are from Sarasota.

Campbell, in seeking to replace outgoing Sen. Gwen Margolis, defeated five opponents in the Democratic-leaning District 38, including attorney Jason Pizzo who spent $770,000 of his own money on the contest.

Bullard, a teacher from Miami, turned away challenges by Andrew Korge, the son of a prominent Democratic fundraiser, and Ana Rivas Logan, a former Republican state representative, in Senate District 40.

Also winning primaries on Tuesday were Democrat Linda Stewart, a former House member from Orlando, attorney Gary Farmer of Fort Lauderdale and Frank Alcock, a political science professor at New College of Florida.

Steube and Alcock will go head-to-head for the GOP-leaning District 23, which Republican Sen. Nancy Detert of Venice decided to vacate.


Information provided by The News Service of Florida.

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