Republican John Morroni defeated Democrat John McGuire on Tuesday and earned his third term in the state House as the District 50 representative.
"This is a victory for positive campaigning," said Morroni, who celebrated at the Sheraton Sand Key with other Republican candidates. "It's a sign for everyone that positive campaigning works."
A Chicago native, Morroni, 41, has represented the district since 1992, when it was created. The district includes parts of Clearwater, Dunedin, Largo and St. Petersburg.
"I can't be disappointed at all," said McGuire, who attended a party at the Turtle Club near Largo. "I've got work tomorrow. I've got a 9 o'clock appointment with a new client."
Morroni, a dealer in collectible coins, touted education as the focal point of his campaign, as did his challenger, McGuire, 31, a lawyer.
But McGuire's tactics earned him some criticism during the campaign.
Some said his campaign staged illegal security tests at six Pinellas County high schools by sending volunteers to roam the campuses to see how long it took for their presence to be questioned.
An unofficial, bipartisan election watchdog committee also said McGuire engaged in unfair campaign practices with some of his mailings.
McGuire said he was not discouraged by the results.
"We worked real hard," he said. "We got our message out."