Florida Senate District 18: Janet Cruz and Dana Young take fight into overtime

Cruz clings to a slim 82 vote lead. But there are plenty of votes still to be counted in this hotly contested district that represents the northwest corner of Hillsborough County, Town n’ Country, West Tampa and South Tampa.
Republican incumbent Dana Young and Democratic challenger Janet Cruz are seeking election in state Senate District 18.
Republican incumbent Dana Young and Democratic challenger Janet Cruz are seeking election in state Senate District 18.
Published Nov. 7, 2018|Updated Nov. 7, 2018


  • With all  141 precincts reporting, Democratic challenger Janet Cruz has taken a slim lead over Republican incumbent Dana Young by just 82 votes.
  • There were 203,162 votes in the race.
  • But it’s not over yet. There are about 5,000 late mail ballots and about 760 provisional ballots countywide that must be counted.
  • For more election results: Check out the Tampa Bay Times results page.

Democratic challenger Janet Cruz holds a slim 82-vote lead in her battle with Republican incumbent Dana Young with all precincts reporting in Florida Senate District 18. Cruz has 50.02 percent of the vote.

But the race isn't over. It's going into overtime.

The lead could easily change in the coming hours or days. The Hillsborough County Supervisor of Election's Office said about 5,000 late countywide mail ballots must still be counted, and that won't be done until about 5 a.m. There are also about 760 provisional ballots that must be counted. It's unknown how many of those came from Senate District 18.

And regardless of whoever holds the lead, if the margin of victory still remains under 0.5 percent, then there will be a recount. The canvassing board meets at 5 p.m. Thursday to decide.

From the start of the campaigns, this was one of the most competitive races in the Tampa Bay. The district includes the northwest corner of Hillsborough County, Town n' Country, West Tampa and South Tampa.

The candidates' messages turned negative in the final weeks.

Democratic challenger Janet Cruz, the 62-year-old state House minority leader, accused Young in mailers of voting to underfund public schools and kowtowing to the National Rifle Association.

Incumbent Young, 54, responded with television ads accusing Cruz of failing to pay property taxes and voting against a constitutional amendment to cut property taxes on homesteads.

The Democrats outnumber the Republicans in District 18 by about 8,700 registered voters. But Young trounced the Democratic opponent in fundraising, according to the latest numbers released by the Florida Department of State Division of Elections

Young raised more than $982,600 in financial contributions and about $812,000 in in-kind contributions. That's compared to Cruz's nearly $500,000 in cash and about $210,000 in in-kind contributions.

Cruz campaigned as a strong advocate of public education funding and stricter controls on guns. She supports expanding the state's Medicaid program under the Affordable Care Act and opposed the school safety legislation passed after the Parkland high school shooting because it included arming school personnel and included few firearms restrictions.

Young campaigned as a conservative Republican with a history of strong advocacy of gun rights and economic growth. She advocates lessening government regulations on businesses, charter schools and private school tuition vouchers, and has been a champion of the craft beer industry.

For national and statewide election results check out The Buzz

For local election results check out the Bay Buzz

For school board election results check out The Gradebook.