Republicans win most state House races in Hillsborough

State House District 47 candidate James Grant hugs longtime friend Elena Vance as he campaigns at the Carrollwood Recreation Center toward the end of election day Tuesday.

SCOTT MCINTYRE | Times

State House District 47 candidate James Grant hugs longtime friend Elena Vance as he campaigns at the Carrollwood Recreation Center toward the end of election day Tuesday.

DISTRICT 57

Young outpaces Frank to replace Culp

Republican Dana Young held a wide lead Tuesday night over Democrat Stacy Frank in the race to replace outgoing Rep. Faye Culp.

"I have spent a great deal of time talking to the voters of the district, and people are concerned about the direction of the country," Young said.

"The message they sent is loud and clear," she said. "The principles of limited government and fiscal responsibility have to be at the forefront of this state. I'm very, very humbled and proud to carry the message of the voters of District 57 to Tallahassee."

Young's win followed a bruising campaign in which each candidate raised nearly $450,000.

Young, 45, is a lawyer-turned-stay-at-home-mom. She previously worked for five years in the regulated industries department at the Fowler White law firm.

Frank, 56, is a lawyer who specializes in real estate and telecommunications law. She could not be reached for comment Tuesday night.

District 57 represents south Tampa, Westchase and Town 'N Country. Culp left the seat because of term limits.

Richard Danielson and Janet Zink, Times staff writers

DISTRICT 47

Grant beats Steinberg to replace Ambler

Republican lawyer James Grant, the son of longtime former state Sen. John Grant, amassed a comfortable lead Tuesday night in the fight to replace Kevin Ambler in the state House.

"We feel very good about it right now," said Grant, 28, who credited his win to a strong team of supporters and a commitment to run a clean campaign. He predicted a tough legislative session but pledged to help create a limited, transparent and responsible government.

The district covers Keystone, Cheval, Northdale, Citrus Park and Carrollwood. After being term-limited out of office, Ambler lost to County Commissioner Jim Norman in the GOP primary in state Senate District 12.

Democrat Michael Steinberg, 51, said he thought several things played key roles in the election, including the Grant family's "very good reputation" and Grant's well-organized, high-energy campaign.

"I don't agree with his policies, but I really think he worked hard," said Steinberg, a lawyer. He encouraged Grant to be open to Democrats and independents who didn't vote for him. "As long as he does that, I think he's going to make a fine representative."

Richard Danielson, Times staff writer

DISTRICT 56

Burgin cruises to second term

Republican Rachel Burgin held a commanding lead in her effort to win a second term representing a district that stretches from Davis Islands to Brandon and FishHawk.

Burgin, who did not return calls for comment Tuesday night, easily turned back a challenge from lawyer and Air Force veteran David Chalela.

Burgin, 28, a former aide to Rep. Trey Traviesa, was nominated to replace him when he decided not to run for re-election in 2008. On the campaign trail, she touted her pro-business outlook, while Chalela said she did not have a reputation for bucking her party's leadership.

"I think that the continuing slump in the economy was just too much for any Democrat to overcome," he said. "We fought a good, hard clean race, and we did the best we could and maybe we'll get them next time."

Richard Danielson, Times staff writer

DISTRICT 58

Cruz returns to House; Redner to Mons Venus

Incumbent Democrat Janet Cruz won an easy victory Tuesday, defeating strip club owner Joe Redner by nearly a 3-to-1 ratio.

"I've been working hard and I appreciate that people recognize that," said Cruz, who won her seat by special election after Michael Scionti left the post to work in the Pentagon.

After winning the seat in February, Cruz moved from her South Tampa home to a condo in the district, which includes West Tampa, Seminole Heights and Town 'N Country.

Her top priorities as a state lawmaker will be to bring jobs to and make life easier for the people in her district, she said.

Redner, who ran with no party affiliation, said he had no election night party because he had no campaign volunteers. Instead, he spent the evening at his famed nude dance club, the Mons Venus. He said it would have been tough to work in a Republican-controlled House, but he wishes he could have had the chance.

"I think I could have brought something to the table,'' he said.

Elisabeth Parker, Times staff writer

DISTRICT 60

Harrison cruises over Patterson

Former Tampa City Council member Shawn Harrison will replace term-limited Rep. Ed Homan in the district seat that covers Thonotosassa, Temple Terrace, Lutz and Lake Magdalene.

With nearly all precincts reporting, well over half of voters favored the Republican lawyer over Democrat Russ Patterson.

Harrison, 45, was the first person from New Tampa elected to the City Council, serving from 1999 to 2007. He has served on the Tampa Bay Area Regional Transportation Authority board since 2007.

The owner of two small businesses, Harrison plans to oppose new taxes and will consider government cuts to everything but public safety.

"My experience as a small business owner, as somebody who understands how to create jobs and how to take an idea and turn it into a business, I think that resonated with people," he said.

Patterson, 58, a part-time teacher and retired Air Force officer, stressed education reform, the taxing of Internet sales and investments in clean energy to create jobs.

Justin George, Times staff writer

DISTRICT 61

Weatherford handily defeats McCullough

State Rep. Will Weatherford easily defeated Democrat Elena McCullough on Tuesday, moving him a step closer to becoming the 2012 speaker of the House of Representatives.

Weatherford won about two-thirds of the vote in District 61, which covers central and eastern 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 didn't characterize his victory as a protest against President Barack Obama or the Democratic majority in Congress, but rather as an endorsement 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 run 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

DISTRICT 67

Steube defeats Hafeez in south Hillsborough

Republican Greg Steube easily outpaced Democrat Z.J. Hafeez to represent a district that includes Gibsonton, Sun City Center and Ruskin, plus parts of eastern Manatee and Sarasota counties.

Steube, 32, a Lakewood Ranch lawyer, Iraq War veteran and Army Reserves captain, favors lower taxes, smaller government and reduced regulations while opposing offshore drilling.

With just two precincts uncounted, Steube had piled up large margins of victory in all three counties. He will replace term-limited Rep. Ron Reagan.

"I'm glad the last two years of hard work and the message that we put out to our constituency is what the voters wanted to hear," said Steube, the son of Manatee County Sheriff W. Brad Steube.

Hafeez, 27, a consultant with Quality Health Plans, began his career in Europe with the World Trade Organization and wanted to improve education funding and close corporate tax loopholes.

Unaffiliated candidate John Studebaker, 38, trailed with a fraction of the vote.

Justin George, Times staff writer

DISTRICT 44

Schenck easily wins third House term

Republican incumbent Robert Schenck easily won a third term, soundly defeating former Hernando County Commissioner and Democrat Diane Rowden.

"I have my track record now of being a proven tax-cutter and for standing up for less government,'' he said.

District 44 encompasses most of Hernando County and small parts of Pasco and Sumter counties.

In a hotly contested campaign, 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, 35, pounded on Rowden for a 1993 Sunshine Law violation and suspension from her School Board seat.

Rowden, 61, 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 in two terms as a county commissioner.

Barbara Behrendt, Times staff writer

Republicans win most state House races in Hillsborough 11/03/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, November 3, 2010 1:34am]

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