TAMPA — Ed Narain, an area manager for AT&T and former student body president at the University of South Florida, beat out three other Democratic candidates vying Tuesday to replace state Rep. Betty Reed in House District 61.
Though he faces a write-in candidate in November, the primary results have almost certainly ushered Narain, 37, into the Legislature as the next representative from District 61. He claimed about 41 percent of the votes, while Sean Shaw, a Tallahassee-backed lawyer, came in second with 35 percent.
Shaw, who raised $82,000 more than Narain in campaign donations, was unable to turn his financial advantage into enough votes. This is the second time the son of retired Florida Supreme Court Justice Leander Shaw has lost an election for the Florida House of Representatives. The first was in 2008 in Tallahassee.
Reed, D-Tampa, who is stepping down after representing the heavily Democratic district for eight years, endorsed Narain several weeks before Tuesday's primary. Reed said she backed him because of their shared concerns for the area, as well as his "community roots" and "servant heart."
Reed said Tuesday night that she is very comfortable handing leadership of the district, which covers Tampa Heights, Seminole Heights and Temple Crest, to Narain.
"I really believe he will do a good job for our District 61 and for the state of Florida," Reed said. "I feel that he is a person that will listen to what you are saying. He is a hard worker, and you can trust him to do what he says he is going to do."
Narain spent Tuesday bouncing between polling sites and shaking hands with voters. He celebrated with family, friends and supporters at the Columbia Restaurant as the results came in.
"We're ecstatic," he said. "I think we put out a really strong message about working together. That's what my victory speech was about and that's what we saw across the community."
Narain is a member of several community organizations, including the Children's Board of Hillsborough County and the Hillsborough County Head Start Policy Council Board. He earned his law degree from Stetson University in 2013, and he has a master's in business and a bachelor's degree from Saint Leo University.
He said his top priority in the Legislature would be working to reduce unemployment within the district and increase funding for job training programs.
"It's one of the things that Rep. Reed was working toward, really getting some economic incubators in our district," Narain said. "That's something I'm going to continue to work for."
Narain also defeated Sharon Carter and Tatiana Denson.
Carter, a lifelong Tampa resident, based her campaign on making education a priority in the Legislature. She received nearly 16 percent of the vote. This was Denson's second time running in the Democratic primary for District 61.
Contact Caitlin Johnston at [email protected] or (813) 661-2443. Follow @cljohnst.