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Tampa Bay area voters reject several incumbents, Democrats

Here's a look at the results of some of the other races around the Tampa Bay area.

In a stunning upset, longtime Pinellas Commissioner Calvin Harris lost his seat to challenger Norm Roche of Clearwater.

Roche, who was considered a long shot, beat Harris with 52 percent of the vote. The 48-year-old Roche, who has lost past bids for the commission as a Democrat, ran as a Republican in this year's race.

Just days ago, Harris, a Democrat, downplayed the threat of losing his seat despite the fears some supporters had of a rush of Republican voters.

Harris, 69, has been on the board since 1997. He was the first African-American to win a seat on the Pinellas County Commission since its founding in 1911.

The anti-incumbent and anti-Democrat mood was evident in other races as well.

Voters rejected state Rep. Bill Heller, D-St. Petersburg, and state Rep. Janet Long, D-Seminole.

Heller lost his District 52 seat to Republican challenger Jeff Brandes, who had about 52 percent of the vote. Republican Larry Ahern beat Long with more than 50 percent of the vote for the District 51 seat.

During the election, Brandes, 34, a real estate director in his family's development company who was backed by the Republican Party of Florida, hit television and mailboxes aggressively with advertising. Heller, a two-term Florida House member, also got outside support.

Ahern, a pool company owner in Seminole, portrayed Long as a "Tallahassee insider" during the campaign and also was backed by the state GOP.

Not all incumbents suffered the same fate.

Susan Latvala, a Republican, managed to hang on to her seat on the Pinellas County Commission.

Latvala, who joined the board in 2000, beat challenger Bob Hackworth with about 57 percent of the vote. The race represented the most serious challenge Latvala has faced since she began representing District 4 in North Pinellas. Hackwork, a Democrat who is the former mayor of Dunedin, got about 43 percent of the vote.

Elsewhere in Pinellas, Republican Jack Latvala, a campaign consultant and ex-husband of the commissioner, is headed back to the Florida Legislature after winning the state Senate District 16 seat with 62 percent of votes cast. Latvala, a former senator, beat Democrat Nina Hayden, a first-term Pinellas School Board member who got 38 percent of the vote.

In Hillsborough, Republicans Sandra Murman, Victor Crist, Ken Hagan and Mark Sharpe appeared headed toward victory with most precincts counted late Tuesday.

Tampa Bay area voters reject several incumbents, Democrats 11/02/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, November 2, 2010 10:34pm]
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