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Incumbent enjoys strong lead // DISTRICT 47

Republican incumbent Rob Wallace held a substantial lead over Democratic challenger Mary Dunkle in early results Tuesday in the race for state House District 47.

Wallace, who was watching the election returns at his Forest Hills home, said he regarded the results as the report card on his freshman term.

"We've been working awful hard in Tallahassee and trying to represent people," said Wallace, the 44-year-old founder and president of Environmental Engineering Consultants in Tampa. "We had a great grass-roots effort and a tremendous amount of volunteers working with me, and it seems like that shoe leather hitting the pavement is paying off."

Dunkle, who had never run for office before, said she wasn't bothered by Wallace's early lead. Like Wallace, she was watching the returns from her home in Carrollwood with her supporters.

"I'm very optimistic," said Dunkle, a 43-year-old nurse with Hospice of Hillsborough. "We're just sitting around having a nice time with all our friends and volunteers and waiting for the final results. We're not worried."

Wallace said he wanted to build on his first two years in office, vowing to continue efforts to have School Board members elected in the general election instead of in the runoff. He also wants to require the Tampa Port Authority to submit tax increases to a referendum.

Dunkle said her primary concerns are education and juvenile crime. She also pushed for health-care reform.

House District 47 includes parts of Carrollwood and Odessa in northwest Hillsborough County, stretching into North Pinellas to include Tarpon Springs.