Lynn Dostal, a retired human resources executive who now teaches part time at a Spring Hill charter school, crushed his opponent in what turned out to be a bizarre Democratic primary for the state House District 34 seat.
Dostal, of Homosassa, easily defeated Robert Goocher, a Homosassa auto mechanic. Dostal now moves on to face Republican incumbent Jimmie T. Smith of Inverness and former state Sen. Nancy Argenziano, who is running as an Independent.
"I'm absolutely tickled," Dostal said. "This is an amazing day for grassroots over big money."
Early in the race, Dostal announced he would suspend his campaign and support Argenziano, a former Republican who has deep roots in Citrus and garnered a reputation as a moderate populist during her time on the state's Public Services Commission. Dostal had figured Argenziano had the better chance of beating Smith in the heavily Republican district that includes all of Citrus County and northwest Hernando County.
Goocher jumped into the race after Dostal made that announcement. He did not appear to actively campaign, but garnered thousands of dollars in support from electioneering groups.
When the theory emerged that Goocher was a prop to help Smith by ensuring that there was a Democrat on the ballot who would split the vote with Argenziano, Dostal announced plans to stay in the race to beat Goocher and then possibly drop out to make way for Argenziano. He still hasn't ruled that out, but said he was buoyed by Tuesday's results.