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The staff of the Tampa Bay Times

With Dems in the political wilderness, Bill Heller relieved he didn't win



ST. PETERSBURG -- Losing by barely more than 1,000 votes, Democrat Bill Heller conceded to Jeff Brandes at about 11:40 a.m. on Wednesday. He said he would have called Brandes earlier, but he had been busy refinancing his house.

If Heller seems a bit casual about losing the House District 52 seat he held since 2006, it might be because he already has moved on. It was a frustration of his that he and the other Democratic lawmakers were in the minority in Tallahassee and marginalized politically. After Tuesday night, that only got worse with Republicans picking up veto-proof majorities in the House and Senate. Oh yeah, they also won the Governor's mansion.

"In some ways, I feel relieved I won't have to go up there and fight in that environment," Heller said. "We could have the best ideas on earth, but they're not going to go anywhere. We're going to beat our heads against the wall for a long time."

He likened the Democrats predicament to that of the Washington Generals, the sad sack exhibition team that would play, and lose, to the Harlem Globetrotters.

"Some times we would win, but most of the time you knew that the Harlem Globetrotters would win," Heller said. "That's not very satisfying."

A special education professor at the University of South Florida, Heller will continue to teach two courses and focus more on his research of disabilities. At 75, this was probably his last run for office.

"This was more of a backlash against Obama," Heller said. "It was just a Republican sweep, and I got caught up in it."

-- Michael Van Sickler, Times Staff Writer 

[Last modified: Wednesday, November 3, 2010 12:46pm]


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