Two Republicans jockeyed Tuesday in a tight contest to challenge 26-year Democratic incumbent Elvin Martinez in the state House District 58 race.
With nearly all the precincts reporting, two-time candidate Douglas MacPherson, 50, held the slimmest of leads over political newcomer Mark Hanisee, 37.
"I feel good about the race," MacPherson said from his campaign party Tuesday night at the International Deli on Waters Avenue. "People are fed up with Martinez. He's been there too long."
This is MacPherson's second run for the seat. In 1994, he captured 44 percent of the vote against Martinez, who has held the District 58 seat for 26 of the past 30 years.
The results, though, did not discourage Hanisee, a West Tampa employee benefits consultant.
"We still have a long way to go," he said from his campaign headquarters on W Hillsborough Avenue.
Both Hanisee and MacPherson agree education and crime are top issues. MacPherson favors vouchers for private schools and stronger sentences for juveniles who commit crimes.
But the two Republicans disagree on taxes.
MacPherson, who holds patents on various inventions and is co-owner of Basic Online Software Systems, supports junking the existing tax system for a maximum 1 percent "commerce tax" on goods and services bought in Florida.
Hanisee, who has been an employee benefits consultant for 16 years and has worked with businesses to develop health and retirement benefit programs, said a commerce tax is not the answer.
Hanisee prefers tax incentives for small businesses that allow them to offer health insurance to employees. He also favors funding public and private pension funds and redirecting state dollars into education.