First-time candidates Tory Perfetti and Philip Tropea both think they have a chance to win Tuesday's Republican primary for state House District 65. Second-time candidate Marg Baker thinks she has a chance, too.
Incumbent Peter Nehr disagrees.
Running for a fourth and final term before he would be term-limited out, Nehr, 60, feels as confident as he ever has before a primary election. Polls will be open from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. Tuesday, and the winner will face Democrat Carl Zimmermann in the Nov. 6 election.
District 65 includes Dunedin, Tarpon Springs and parts of East Lake.
"I respect all three of my opponents, they've all worked hard," Nehr said. "I feel I'm going to win. My record is good, it's conservative, and I represent the people of my district well."
If money has anything to do with it, Nehr should feel confident. He has a massive fundraising advantage, with nearly $128,000 raised, according to state campaign filings. He has spent $75,563, which dwarfs what his three opponents have spent, combined. The runnerup in the District 65 money race is Perfetti, who has spent $5,723 of the $7,196 he's raised, according to state filings.
"I tried my best to raise from the grass roots level, but I understood that out-raising an incumbent was not going to happen," said Perfetti, 30, an account manager at GoodLiving magazine and a second lieutenant in the Florida Army National Guard.
Perfetti, who is active in several local Republican organizations, thinks he has a shot Tuesday despite the fundraising disadvantage.
"I've done a whole heck of a lot of door knocking," he said. "I have a chance."
Marg Baker, 71, a retired real estate broker from Palm Harbor, is the only other candidate who has run before. Baker, who has spent $877 of the $1,942 she has raised, lost to Nehr in the 2010 primary. She has declined to speak to the Tampa Bay Times.
Tropea, 74, a retired real estate and mortgage broker who lives in Palm Harbor, thinks his community outreach efforts will materialize in votes. He knows he faces an uphill battle against Nehr, whose campaign signs far outnumber anyone else's along major roadways in the district.
"God bless him, he's got a lot of signs out there," Tropea said of Nehr. "I don't know if that makes a difference. We'll see."
Will Hobson can be reached at (727) 445-4167 or [email protected] To write a letter to the editor, go to tampabay.com/letters.