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In competitive election season, Littlefield enjoys happy return

Carl Littlefield doesn't mind having a little extra time on his hands this fall.

On Friday, the Dade City Republican was returned to the state House of Representatives when no candidate filed to oppose him. It will be his third two-year term.

That calm victory stands in contrast to Pasco's other House members, Debra Prewitt, D-New Port Richey, and Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, who both face challengers.

"I never thought I wouldn't be challenged," Littlefield said this week.

In his District 61, Democratic voter registration outnumbered Republican registration by 52 to 41 percent as late as 1990, Littlefield said.

Currently, there are 19,673 Pasco voters in his district who are registered as Republican, versus 19,163 Democrats.

Littlefield represents most of eastern Pasco County west to U.S. 41, as well as parts of northeastern Hillsborough County.

"I'm not one of those guys who enjoys going through all of what you have to go through to be re-elected," Littlefield said.

"It's been a quiet year on our side," Pasco Democratic Chairman Rob Marlowe said of the lack of an opponent. His party also did not field candidates for property appraiser, clerk of circuit court or Ann Hildebrand's seat on the County Commission.

"I think (Littlefield) would have been a formidable opponent," said retiring Pasco County Property Appraiser Ted Williams, a Democrat. "He's in a conservative district that has a strong religious orientation, and with him being a preacher, that counts for a lot." Littlefield is an ordained minister.

Littlefield said his priorities for the next legislative session include the elderly and the region's water wars, issues he worked on in this year's session.

Littlefield this year led a Republican study committee on health, education and welfare, and hopes for more influence in those areas in the next session if the Republicans win control of the state House this fall.

In the last legislative session, Littlefield co-sponsored these bills:

A bipartisan measure that reformed the state's welfare system.

A bill that will allow people to use Medicaid to pay for less expensive, less restrictive alternatives to nursing home care. They include home health care or assisted living facilities.

A bill that will require minimum levels to be set for groundwater and lakes.

Littlefield considered himself a supporter of environmental protection. But based on the 1995 legislative session, the Florida League of Environmental Voters gave him a relatively low ranking of 22 percent, on a scale of 100. Littlefield attributed that to his vote against the net-ban amendment. The group's 1996 rankings have not yet been released.

Littlefield's efforts on the welfare-reform bill drew praise from state Rep. Mary Brennan, D-Pinellas Park, chairwoman of the Housing Aging and Social Services Committee. Littlefield is vice chairman.

Littlefield pushed for provisions that would not cut welfare payments to disabled children, she said.

"I think he's thought of highly on both sides of the aisle," she said.

"I think he's viewed by those of us who have served longer as an up-and-comer," said Rep. R. Z. "Sandy" Safley, R-Clearwater, who worked with Littlefield on the water bill.

"He's energetic in studying the issues, and he provided some of the most creative ideas as we sat and crafted legislation."

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