The congressional seat held by Brooksville Republican Ginny Brown-Waite will be filled by the Hernando County sheriff that Brown-Waite handpicked to replace her.
Richard B. "Rich" Nugent held an insurmountable lead over Land O'Lakes Democrat Jim Piccillo in the District 5 race with a majority of precincts reporting Tuesday night.
"Tonight, we can take a moment for a well-deserved deep breath, but the challenge begins again tomorrow," Nugent said in a statement. "Despite the clear message sent tonight, President Obama and Speaker Pelosi still believe that the majority of Americans who oppose their policies are mistaken. So until we can rein in federal spending, lower taxes on hard-working individuals and small businesses and decrease the size and scope of our government, we must keep fighting to restore conservative values."
Piccillo, a 36-year-old small business consultant, entered the race facing what most political observers called an impossible task — beat Brown-Waite in a district carved out by a Republican state Legislature. The district includes all of Citrus, Hernando and Sumter counties, most of Lake, Levy and Pasco counties and portions of Marion and Polk.
Then Brown-Waite, who has held the seat since defeating Democrat Karen Thurman in 2002, decided earlier this year not to run because of health concerns and quietly asked Nugent to run in her place. Nugent, 59, agreed, filing just before the deadline in April. A few minutes later, Brown-Waite announced she was bowing out and supporting Nugent.
"I think this is indicative of the anti-Democrat wave that's sweeping the country and also the state," Piccillo said Tuesday night. "What we're seeing has little to do with the quality of the race that we ran and more to do with the letter after my name. . . . This is definitely not the end for me politically."
Tony Marrero can be reached at (352) 848-1431 or firstname.lastname@example.org.