THE LATEST:

  • Amanda Murphy released a statement at about 8:08 p.m. conceding defeat to Ed Hooper.
  • With all precincts tallied in Pinellas and Pasco counties, Republican Ed Hooper has won his race against Democrat Amanda Murphy with about 52 percent of the vote.
  • In her statement Murphy said that the results are “obviously disappointing” but that she is grateful for having had the opportunity. “Our message was always that we can accomplish so much more when we work together than when we lean into those things which divide us.”
  • More election results
Longtime Clearwater politician and Republican candidate Ed Hooper has defeated  Democratic candidate Amanda Murphy, 48 in a close race for Florida Senate District 16.
Hooper, 71, won with 52 percent of the vote and with 100 percent of precincts reporting. The district covers north Pinellas and western parts of Pasco counties, and the seat historically has a Republican edge. It’s been vacant since December, when powerful Republican politician Jack Latvala resigned amid a sexual harassment investigation.
A victory for Hooper is a defeat for the Florida Democratic Party, which was attempting to flip the seat from red to blue along with four other state senate seats.
“The voters in Pinellas and Pasco at the end of the day thought my message was the one that resonated with them,” Hooper said. “It’s an awfully nice feeling to be at this stage after a long, grueling campaign.”
Hooper said he wants to spend his time in the Senate improving transportation and school safety, expanding flood insurance opportunities and making distracted driving a primary offense instead of a secondary one.
He served as a Clearwater firefighter for more than two decades before launching an enduring career in local politics. Hooper, a traditional conservative who toes the party line, was elected in 2006 to represent Pinellas County’s District 67 in the Florida House of Representatives. Hooper was better funded, outraising Murphy in campaign donations by roughly five to one.
Murphy worked as a financial adviser before she served in the Florida House of Representatives from 2013 to 2016 — voted in through a special election for the House District 36 seat. She announced her candidacy in May, far later than Hooper. She had decided to run to help Democrats potentially seize control of the state senate in an election year seen as a referendum on President Donald Trump.
In a statement Tuesday, Murphy said the results are “obviously disappointing” but that she is grateful for having had the opportunity to run.
“Our message was always that we can accomplish so much more when we work together than when we lean into those things which divide us,” Murphy said in the statement.

Both candidates made nasty jabs at each other in the weeks leading up to the election. Murphy accused Hooper of putting out mailers with misleading information about her record on public education, and Hooper argued that the Murphy campaign’s criticism of his alleged role in bolstering a controversial utility tax was deceptive.

Hooper pointed out that his opponent's criticism of large donations made to him by Duke Energy might not have been the "hot button" issue Murphy's campaign and the Florida Democratic Party thought it would be.

Last week WFLA reported that someone falsely posing as Pasco Tax Collector Mike Fasano sent robo-texts endorsing Hooper to some Pasco voters. Hooper said his campaign didn’t approve the messages, and later put a stop to them.

Hooper has built toward this victory for two years, knowing Latvala was going to be term limited out this year. He turned his eyes toward this race as soon as he lost his costly bid for Pinellas County Commission in 2014.
“When we got in over two years ago, we got in with the intention of running a strong, vigorous campaign and we continued that up until today,” Hooper said. “I’m going to hit the ground running in Tallahassee, be an effective and productive senator and make this part of Florida better than it is today.”

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.