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Hapner closes night with a slim lead // COUNTY JUDGE GROUP 8

With a third of the precincts reporting, Elizabeth "Betsey" Hapner maintained a narrow lead over her opponent Mark Wolfe in the race for the County Judge Group 8 race.

Hapner, 39, a former prosecutor, was pleased to be ahead early in the evening, but hardly ready to claim victory.

"This margin is not quite as comfortable" as the lead she held in the September primary, Hapner said as she watched televised returns at Frankie's Patio in Ybor City.

Wolfe, 40, who has run twice before for a county judge seat, remained optimistic as he watched returns at a bar several blocks away.

"It's just too early for me to get a feeling on it," Wolfe said. He took some solace in the fact that he did not move into second place in the primary until 75 percent of the vote had been counted.

Hapner campaigned on her experience both as a former assistant public defender and an assistant prosecutor.

Hapner was head of the felony division before leaving the Hillsborough State Attorney's Office in 1986.

Hapner did not appear to be hurt by coverage of a messy divorce and restraining order she filed against her husband, a Tampa police detective.

Hapner took nearly a third of the vote in the September primary in a crowded five-way race. Wolfe, the runner-up, received 20 percent of the vote, but received endorsements from two of his opponents.

Wolfe ran for county judge in 1990 and 1994. From 1989 to 1992, Wolfe served as a traffic court magistrate. He has since worked as a private attorney.

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