WESLEY CHAPEL — State Rep. Will Weatherford enjoyed a strong early lead over Democrat Elena McCullough and moved a step closer to becoming the 2012 speaker of the House of Representatives.
Weatherford captured about two-thirds of the vote in District 61, which includes central and east Pasco and part of New Tampa.
Weatherford, 30, campaigned on a platform that included not raising taxes and supporting an amendment to allow school districts more flexibility on class size. He has raised more than $500,000 toward his re-election.
The Republican incumbent is on track to become Pasco's first House speaker since 1893 and the youngest since 1957. He soundly defeated Kevin Wright, a tea party activist and owner of a shirt-printing business, in the Aug. 24 GOP primary.
McCullough, 49, is Weatherford's neighbor and a retired lieutenant with the Coast Guard who volunteered for President Barack Obama during his 2008 campaign. This was her first time running for public office.