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Republicans square off in District 56 state House primary

An incumbent and a dentist will face off in the Republican primary for District 56, the area stretching from Brandon west to Davis Islands in Tampa, in the Florida House.

The Republican race, the only contested race in the district, pits incumbent Rachel Burgin against Marc Johnson. The winner of the Republican primary will face Democrat David Chalela, an attorney, and write-in candidate Lewis Laricchia in November.

Johnson, 41, answered questions about his campaign between seeing patients at one of the two dental offices he owns.

In addition to filling cavities, Johnson spent three months in Iraq in 2008 and he continues to serve as a major in the U.S. Army Reserve. He lives in Lithia's FishHawk Ranch subdivision with his wife, a high school special education teacher, and two young daughters.

Legislation to reign in fraudulent Medicaid spending, improving failing schools and job creation programs are at the top of his agenda.

"I'm trying to make this a more job-friendly area," Johnson said. He added that he wants to reduce taxes and get property insurance "in shape."

Johnson said his experiences as a small business owner and parent make him the right person to take on these issues.

"I have firsthand experience with everything I've mentioned," Johnson said. "That's where I'm comparable to my opponent."

Republican incumbent Rachel Burgin, 27, said her two years in office are evidence of her dedication to the residents of Hillsborough County.

When former District 56 Rep. Trey Traviesa decided not to run for re-election in 2008, local party officials nominated Burgin, Traviesa's aide for two years, for the seat.

Burgin cited heightened highway safety, better educational technology and improved Internet safety as some of her legislative successes in the past two years.

If re-elected, Burgin said the economy would be her first priority.

"We need to make sure people can sustain their businesses and that there is not too much government regulation impeding the creation of jobs," Burgin said.

Sarah Hutchins can be reached at (813) 661-2443 or shutchins@sptimes.com.

Republicans square off in District 56 state House primary 07/01/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, August 3, 2010 8:01pm]

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