BROOKSVILLE — Now it gets serious.
For the next three months, Gus Guadagnino and Robert Neuhausen will go face to face in the District 4 Hernando School Board race.
With School Board member James Yant vacating the post, it's a wide open seat.
Both said Wednesday they are ready for a tough fight.
"It feels like the gate just opened up and now I got to start running a fast race," said Guadagnino. "It's not over by any means."
Said Neuhausen: "I'm going to try and enjoy it as much as possible and hopefully meet a lot of cool people."
Guadagnino got more than 7,500 votes, roughly 40 percent, in Tuesday's nonpartisan primary election. Neuhausen received more than 4,700 votes, or about 25 percent of the vote. With no candidate receiving at least half the vote in the four-person race, the November runoff became necessary.
Guadagnino said he had hoped to wrap up the spot in the primary, but admitted that it wasn't likely, given that there were four contenders.
Neuhausen admitted that he has a tough road ahead. He said he is worried about Guadagnino's name recognition and ability to raise money.
"My concern … is Gus is going to bury us with signs," he said in an interview after the vote.
Neuhausen said he plans to get out and meet as many people as possible in an effort to close Tuesday's gap. There will be a lot of meet-and-greets, knocking on doors, he said.
Guadanino garnered the most money ahead of the primary, raising a little more than $7,000. Neuhausen brought in just over $3,000, the second-highest total in the District 4 race.
Helen Villafane and Michael Gordon were knocked out of the contest.
Villafane, who earned more than 21 percent of the vote, said she was pleased with the result.
"I think I did pretty good," she said Wednesday. "I think for the first-time run, I did pretty good. I got a lot of support."
She said she had been getting calls of congratulations for having the guts to run.
She said she hadn't decided whether she would support another candidate in the November runoff.
But she did have a message for them:
"They better do right by our children," she said.
Gordon was also pleased with his 2,400 votes, given that this was the first time he's ever run for office.
He said he will now throw his support behind Neuhausen.
He said that prior to the primary election, he and Neuhausen had made a pact to support the other if one of them got knocked out of the race.
"I'll go out and wave signs for him and the whole bit," Gordon said.
Danny Valentine can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (352) 848-1432.