Ed Hooper, an incumbent who's running a well-financed campaign for his fourth and final term in the State House, handily defeated an underfunded challenger in Tuesday's Republican primary.
Hooper, R-Clearwater, took a nearly 40-point lead over his challenger, Christopher Shepard, a 24-year-old Iraq War veteran and St. Petersburg College student who was endorsed by Pinellas tea party groups.
"Mr. Shepard was the preferred candidate of the tea party groups, and that's okay," Hooper said Tuesday night. "We did everything we normally do — sent out mailers, went door-to-door, waved signs at intersections. That one's over, and now we press onward."
Hooper will face a Democratic opponent in the November general election — Ben Farrell, a manager at Lenny's Restaurant in Clearwater. They'll be vying to represent House District 67, which includes most of Clearwater and Largo except for the westernmost parts.
Redistricting moved the district's boundaries southward this year. It lost Safety Harbor, Feather Sound and a bit of Dunedin, but it picked up more of Largo and a slice of northern Pinellas Park.
The redistricting has also made District 67's mix of voters slightly more Democratic, potentially giving Farrell a boost. It's a district that Barack Obama and Alex Sink won comfortably in 2008 and 2010, but Hooper has defeated Democrats before. He won by 20 points in the 2010 general election.