Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Gualtieri wins full term as Pinellas County sheriff

Sheriff Bob Gualtieri gives a victory speech with his 7-year-old daughter, Lauren, and wife, Lauralee Westine, at a GOP watch party at the Hilton St. Petersburg Carillon Park on Tuesday.

JAMES BORCHUCK | Times

Sheriff Bob Gualtieri gives a victory speech with his 7-year-old daughter, Lauren, and wife, Lauralee Westine, at a GOP watch party at the Hilton St. Petersburg Carillon Park on Tuesday.

Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri cruised to victory in the general election Tuesday, concluding a long, difficult and expensive campaign to convince voters he should remain in the job Gov. Rick Scott appointed him to last year.

He had 59 percent of the vote compared with 40 percent for Democratic challenger Scott Swope at the end of the night, according to unofficial results.

Gualtieri declared victory shortly before 9 p.m. at a Republican watch party at the Hilton St. Petersburg Carillon Park hotel after Swope called him to concede.

"The voters spoke today, and obviously like what they see," said Gualtieri, 51.

It was the most closely contested race for the county's top law enforcement position in more than two decades.

The sheriff's post is typically inherited by a Republican without much opposition at the ballot box.

But this year, Gualtieri faced a popular former sheriff during the GOP primary and a poorly funded but serious Democrat in Tuesday's general election.

Political observers were most keenly attuned to the primary, in which Gualtieri scored an against-the-odds win over former four-term Pinellas Sheriff Everett Rice. Combined, the two campaigns spent close to $700,000 on that race.

Once he had defeated Rice, Gualtieri had depleted much of his treasury and still had to face Swope, a personal-injury lawyer from Palm Harbor who had served as a sheriff's deputy and traffic court magistrate.

Swope, 43, raised about $45,000 and ran a persistent campaign, repeatedly alleging mismanagement of the Sheriff's Office.

But in the end, it wasn't enough to overcome Gualtieri's name recognition and fundamental advantage in a county that has voted in a Republican sheriff in every election since 1980.

"It was an uphill battle to begin with," Swope said Tuesday night. "He out-fundraised me probably 8 to 1. There were some negative things that came out during the campaign."

Though a serious competitor, Swope faced flaws in his campaign as well. His promises on the campaign trail to bring sound financial management to the Sheriff's Office were undercut by his personal history, including his role overseeing a Clearwater law firm that fell apart after saddling itself with debt.

As he contemplated another four years as sheriff Tuesday night, Gualtieri said he thinks the bitterness felt by deputies who opposed his candidacy — particularly in the primary campaign — already is subsiding.

Gualtieri wins full term as Pinellas County sheriff 11/06/12 [Last modified: Wednesday, November 7, 2012 12:59am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Virtual line tech leads to long waits at Universal's Volcano Bay

    ORLANDO — Customers are keeping Universal Orlando's new Volcano Bay waterpark filled to capacity most days, but not all are pleased with the experience.

  2. Races are reversed in a police killing, and again a family asks: Why?

    Nation

    MINNEAPOLIS — There was something bad going on in the alleyway behind the house, she told her fiancé on the phone, someone who sounded as if she was in distress, maybe a rape. It was past 11 p.m., and most people on Washburn Avenue were furled in their beds.

    joint cutline 1 inch 1 inch of body type 1 inch 1 inch of body type 1 inch 1 inch of body type 1 inch 1 inch of body type 1 inch 1 inch of body type 1 inch 1 inch
  3. The battle for Venezuela, through a lens and gas mask

    World

    CARACAS, Venezuela — Motley throngs of masked anti-government protesters hurl rocks, fireworks and Molotov cocktails. Police and soldiers retaliate with tear gas, water cannon blasts, rubber bullets and buckshot.

    An uprising is brewing in Venezuela.

    Antigovernment protesters use a giant slingshot to launch glass jars ?   some filled with paint, others with feces ?   at police on the streets of Caracas, Venezuela, May 20, 2017. Nearly every day for more than three months, a ragtag group of protesters calling themselves El Resistencia have taken to the streets to vent fury at President Nicol??s Maduro’s government. (Meridith Kohut/The New York Times) XNYT104
  4. Romano: Sinkholes take Florida's quirks to a whole 'nother level

    Public Safety

    So all of this — the beaches, palm trees and fresh grouper sandwiches — comes with a few extenuating costs. To live in Florida is to accept a lifestyle of hazards, both peculiar and deadly. Lightning strikes and hurricanes, for example. Alligators and sharks, too. Floods, drug traffickers, spring break and …

    Two days after a sinkhole opened in front of her Spring Hill home in 2014, Linda Fisher packs up to leave for good.
  5. On the Camino de Santiago, Day 18: Despite feeling ill, this pilgrim passes the midpoint in her 500-mile journey on foot

    Travel

    Day 18: Lédigos to El Burgo Ranero: 34.3 km, 12.25 hours (Total for Days 1-18 = 428 km (266 miles)

    Today was a struggle.