Dave Gentry, a Gainesville publisher and civic activist, took a strong lead Tuesday night as he and two other Republicans sought the party's nomination in the 5th Congressional District.
Tom Beadle and Pat Gilstrap were fighting for second place and a spot in the Oct. 1 runoff, which would be necessary if the winner did not take 50 percent of the vote plus one.
With more than three-quarters of the precincts reporting, however, Gentry was looking strong enough to take the election outright.
The Republican winner will take on U.S. Rep. Karen Thurman, the Democratic incumbent, in the November general election. Thurman, from Dunnellon, is finishing her second term.
The 5th District covers Citrus and Hernando counties, western Pasco and all or part of four other counties. It was created in 1992, and Thurman has been the only person to represent it.
Gentry, 37, of Gainesville is a magazine publisher and co-founder of the First Amendment Coalition, an organization dedicated to identifying and rooting out "politically correct" policies on college campuses.
He advocates either a flat tax or a consumption tax and supports sending block grants to the states to handle crime, welfare and education. He emphasizes the need to reduce foreign aid and cut wasteful federal spending.
Beadle, 51, a businessman and firearms instructor from Holiday, advocates a flat tax and use of U.S. military force and intelligence to fight drugs.
Gilstrap, 55, of Williston, seeks to abolish the IRS and institute a national sales tax. He is a strong proponent of term limits in Washington and would fight to make sure that American troops serve only under U.S. commanders.