CLEARWATER — Republican state Sen. Jack Latvala handily won re-election with 58 percent of the vote Tuesday, which will allow him to pursue a goal of winning the Senate presidency by 2016.
Latvala called the win the result of a satisfied constituency.
"I'm very appreciative of the confidence the voters put in me," said Latvala, 61, of Clearwater, "and I'm going to do my best for them."
Noting that she received 42 percent of the vote, Latvala's Democratic challenger, political newcomer Ashley Rhodes-Courter of St. Petersburg, said the interest voters showed in her was encouraging, especially given Latvala's fundraising advantage. Latvala raised $607,796 to Rhodes-Courter's $4,110.
The 26-year-old former foster child and best-selling author had pegged herself as an underdog hoping to shed light on Florida's child welfare system and help remedy its flaws.
"The issues are not going away and there are populations that aren't being represented," Rhodes-Courter said. "I definitely think there are other elections in store."
Latvala, a business owner and political consultant, served eight years in the Senate from 1994 to 2002 and then returned in 2010 to Senate District 16.
Redistricting this year created the new Senate District 20, stretching from Largo to Tarpon Springs.
During the campaign, Latvala listed among his top priorities the economy, unemployment, protecting the environment, consumer rights and improving education.
Keyonna Summers can be reached at (727) 445-4153 or [email protected]