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Traviesa given a return ticket to Tallahassee

Incumbent state legislator Anthony "Trey" Traviesa beat Democrat Lee Nelson on Tuesday, giving the Brandon Republican a second term in state House District 56.

"My whole goal in this election was to ask folks if they thought I was doing my job, and the majority thought I am," Traviesa said after most results were counted. "I'm looking forward to continuing to do my job."

The rising Republican star got 57 percent of the vote. Nelson received about 42 percent.

"I knew it was going to be a close race, but I didn't know it was going to be this close," Nelson said. "I'm very excited about the turnout. It proves there's a high level of interest in this race."

Traviesa, a fourth-generation Hillsborough County resident who grew up in South Tampa, got an early political start in the state capital as president of the student body at Florida State University.

In 2004, the banker and venture capitalist defeated five opponents in the Republican primary election, including two with substantial political experience, and slid into an easy victory filling the seat once occupied by Sandy Murman.

Traviesa, 36, rose quickly in his freshman term in Tallahassee. Just three months into office, he was called upon by Gov. Jeb Bush to sponsor a major expansion of the controversial school voucher plan.

The district covers parts of south Tampa and eastern Hillsborough County.

This term, Traviesa said he will focus on growth management, education, transportation and economic development.

Alexandra Zayas can be reached at 226-3354 or