Frank Farkas and Margo Fischer narrowly won primary elections in House District 52 on Tuesday and will face each other in November for a second "Battle of Brightwaters."
In a race that seesawed all night, Fischer squeaked by former St. Petersburg City Council member Martha Maddux to win the Democratic nomination to the seat.
"I'm amazed," Fischer said after the final vote was counted late Tuesday. "I'm feeling great. . . . I never expected it to be this close.
"I owe it all to my volunteers," she said.
Maddux said, "I'm proud of the outcome. I think we fought a good fight, and we're looking forward to the recount."
Maddux said a recount would be conducted today because of the closeness of the vote. She said she had not heard of any irregularities in the voting.
Farkas defeated Cary Burns for the Republican nomination to the House seat.
"I'm real, real happy. We ran a positive campaign. . . . It obviously made a difference," Farkas said.
The district includes northeast St. Petersburg and Kenneth City.
The seat is held by House Speaker Peter Wallace, a Democrat, who decided not to seek re-election.
Farkas and Fischer now face off in the November general election.
The race has been dubbed the "Battle of Brightwaters" because three of the four candidates _ all except Burns _ live on Brightwaters Boulevard, a winding street on Snell Isle in St Petersburg.
Fischer, 49, is married to St. Petersburg Mayor David Fischer.
Maddux, 48, has served on several boards and organizations, including the Juvenile Welfare Board and the Community Health Purchasing Alliance.
Both candidates had high name recognition and extensive networks of supporters in St. Petersburg. Both strongly focused on the need to improve Florida's education system.
Fischer said she would work to reduce class size in elementary and middle schools and to impose a series of "management audits" on schools.
Maddux also stressed the need to reduce school class size and said she would support programs to make schools safer, such as keeping schools open later.
She also announced her support of health reform legislation similar to a program supported by Gov. Lawton Chiles.
On the Republican side, Burns said his varied career as a marine biologist, financial planner and drug abuse counselor would give him the expertise he would need in Tallahassee.
Farkas, who founded a chiropractic clinic, stressed his experience as a small-business owner.