Republican Robert Schenck easily won a third term as District 44 representative in the state House on Tuesday, soundly defeating former Hernando County Commissioner Diane Rowden, a Democrat.
"I have my track record now of being a proven tax cutter and for standing up for less government," he said.
Looking into the next legislative session, he said, "I think the next two years will just be more about rolling back state government and fostering a competitive business environment and creating jobs."
Rowden declined to comment Tuesday.
The District 44 race was one of the most hotly contested local political contests, with each side providing a barrage of fliers and advertisements attacking one another on their records.
Schenck blamed Rowden for raising taxes as the building boom drove up property values. Rowden said she voted for lower property tax rates and that it was Schenck who raised fees at the state level.
Schenck pounded on Rowden for her 1993 Sunshine Law violation and suspension from her School Board seat. Rowden countered with an ad featuring lawyer Peyton Hyslop, who had been the judge who heard the case. He said Rowden had made a mistake 20 years ago and had since served the community well as a county commissioner.
Schenck, 35, served on the Hernando County Commission before seeking the state House seat, which he won in 2006 and again in 2008. He is a graduate of Central High School, and after college he taught home-bound students.
Rowden, 61, retired from Delta Airlines as a flight attendant before beginning her political career.
District 44 encompasses most of Hernando County and small portions of Pasco and Sumter counties.
Barbara Behrendt, Times staff writer
Rep. Peter Nehr easily wins third term
Peter Nehr, R-Palm Harbor, easily won a third and final term as the state House District 48 representative.
"There are a lot of people who like the way I vote," Nehr said. "I am pro business, individual responsibility and the fact that I'm independent enough to vote my conscience and do what I think is right for the constituency and the citizens of Florida."
Nehr beat Tom McKone, an East Lake Democrat who is chairman of the East Lake Fire District Commission. Nehr, 58, captured more than 60 percent of the vote, quite a turnabout from his first two campaigns for the seat when he narrowly won with 51 percent of the vote.
During the campaign, McKone, 59, criticized Nehr's campaign coffers.
"All my contributions came from individuals in the district and his came from outside and Tallahassee," McKone said Tuesday night. "I feel good about our effort."
Nehr raised $221,000 during the campaign — more than six times as much as McKone's $36,000.
Demorris A. Lee, Times staff writer
Shawn Harrison heads to Tallahassee
Former Tampa City Council member Shawn Harrison was poised to replace state Rep. Ed Homan in House District 60.
With 80 percent of precincts reporting, 58 percent of voters chose the Republican lawyer over Democrat Russ Patterson, a 58-year-old retired Air Force officer. The district covers the Hillsborough County communities of Thonotosassa, Temple Terrace, Lutz and Lake Magdalene.
Harrison, 45, who served on the City Council from 1999 to 2007, campaigned on his broad government and business experience. He was the first person elected to the council from New Tampa and has served on the Tampa Bay Area Regional Transportation Authority board since 2007.
He also owns a properties company and a medical collection group and felt his work as a small business owner helped convince voters that he could help create jobs.
Justin George, Times staff writer
Rep. Will Weatherford wins re-election
WESLEY CHAPEL — State Rep. Will Weatherford defeated Democrat Elena McCullough and moved a step closer to becoming the 2012 speaker of the House of Representatives.
Unofficial results showed Weatherford captured about two-thirds of the vote in District 61, which includes central and east Pasco and part of New Tampa.
"I'm honored that the voters in District 61 gave me an opportunity to represent them for two more years," said Weatherford, 30. He said he didn't think the strong victory was a protest aimed at President Barack Obama or the Democratic majority in Congress, but rather a stamp of approval of his agenda of "creating jobs, limiting government and building a good education system."
McCullough, 49, is Weatherford's neighbor and a retired lieutenant with the Coast Guard who volunteered for Obama's 2008 campaign. This was her first time running for public office.
"I am so humbled by the support of the people for someone like me who's never been a candidate," she said. "We ran a killer campaign."
Lisa Buie, Times staff writer