Rudolph Bradley, the school social worker turned politician, handily won his bid to replace another schoolteacher as legislator for Florida House District 55 on Tuesday.
Bradley, 47, received 3,997 votes, or 71.9 percent of the vote. Independent Grady Irvin garnered 897 votes, or 16.1 percent. And Republican Charles Fleer collected 665 votes, for about 12 percent.
Bradley could not be reached for comment late Tuesday.
District 55 encompasses most of southern St. Petersburg, a portion of northern Manatee County, and a couple of voters in Hillsborough. The turnout in Pinellas, which contains the lion's share of the district with 36,790 registered voters, was 13.8 percent. In Manatee, which only holds 8,720 registered voters, only 6.4 percent cast ballots.
Bradley will have to defend his seat again in November, when his term expires. The race became necessary last year when Doug Jamerson was appointed state education commissioner after Betty Castor was named president of the University of South Florida.
And some of his challengers say they are likely to run again.
It was a difficult race for Bradley, who ran an unsuccessful campaign for the state Senate in 1992. First, he had to emerge from a field of five into the Democratic runoff. The slate contained several impressive contenders, including a former Palmetto City Council member and Jamerson's former legislative aide.
In the runoff, Bradley faced the top vote-getter, the Rev. Mayjor Mason Walker, pastor of Moore's Chapel AME Church in St. Petersburg. Walker ran a hard campaign, but was edged out by Bradley by some 300 votes.