Despite all the glitches, power outages and incorrect robocalls, voters in the Tampa Bay area flooded the polls both before and during Election Day. Plenty of incumbents were returned to office -- but not all.
Two Pinellas County commissioners who angered local dentists by voting to ban fluoride from the water supply, Republicans Neil Brickfield and Nancy Bostock, were headed for defeat.
Brickfield conceded to Democrat Janet C. Long, who previously served in the state House, after returns showed him losing 55 percent to 44 percent. Meanwhile Democrat Charlie Justice, also a former House member, was ahead of Bostock, 52 percent to 47 percent.
One incumbent, Democrat Ken Welch, was coasting to another term, beating Republican challenger Buck Walz with 70 percent to 30 percent.
Pinellas County's incumbent Sheriff Bob Gualtieri, a Republican appointed last year by Gov. Rick Scott, beat back a challenge by Scott Swope, a Democrat who has never held an elected office, winning with 60 to 40 percent.
In the Hillsborough County Commission races, incumbent Al Higginbotham was leading Democrat Mark Nash 58 to 37 percent, with independent Joy Green trailing them both.
Meanwhile Republican Margaret Iuculano, founder of an advocacy organization for foster children, was trailing incumbent Democrat Kevin Beckner, a former police officer first elected in 2008, with 42 percent to Beckner's 57 percent.
Two widely known names from the state Legislature appeared to be losing their races Tuesday. Incumbent Republican state Rep. Peter Nehr was losing to Democratic challenger Carl Zimmerman in District 65. And former Republican state Rep. Frank Farkas was trailing in his bid to return to the House in District 68 against Democrat Dwight Dudley.
Meanwhile, voters also saw — and liked — some familiar faces in newly drawn state Senate districts. In District 20, veteran Republican lawmaker Jack Latvala was easily topping newcomer Ashley Rhodes-Courter, an internationally known child welfare activist, 58 percent to 42 percent.
In the state Senate's District 24 race, Tom Lee, a former Senate president, won his bid to get back into the Legislature by beating first-time candidate Elizabeth Belcher, a Democrat, by 54 percent to 45 percent, with write-in candidate Randolph Link trailing both.
And in the District 26 race, former state Rep. Bill Galvano won a return ticket to Tallahassee in this newly drawn district, besting Paula House, a former leader of the Highlands County Democrats, with 58 percent versus 41 percent.
Craig Pittman can be reached at [email protected]