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Fasano defeats political newcomer in close race // STATE HOUSE DISTRICT 45

Republican state Rep. Mike Fasano narrowly defeated Democratic challenger Brian Prescott late Tuesday in a District 45 race that provided the county's closest Election Day contest.

Fasano, who promised a clean campaign, only to take it negative at the 11th hour, held a seemingly comfortable lead over Prescott through the night. Prescott, however, steadily carved into his margin later into the evening.

But Fasano held on.

"This was a stunning victory tonight," Fasano said. "I had the Democratic machine not only in Pasco but from Tallahassee and throughout the state targeting my seat. And we were able to overcome it."

Prescott, 27, could not be reached once final results were in.

The campaign had become quite contentious in recent days.

Prescott, a former sheriff's deputy, has criticized a late mailing by the incumbent comparing him to Mark Fuhrman, the Los Angeles police detective who was accused of being a racist and committed perjury during the O. J. Simpson trial.

The mailer, which falsely said Prescott had been the subject of five internal affairs investigations while a deputy, was mailed Saturday, leaving Prescott little time to respond.

Fasano said he resorted to the attack ad, probably the most fierce for any Pasco campaign this year, only after Prescott started the mudslinging.

Fasano said the mail piece appeared to do little to turn voters away from his campaign.

As Fasano enjoyed financial backing that Prescott could not come close to achieving, a line of Democratic heavyweights, including Gov. Lawton Chiles, hit the stump for the neophyte politician.