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Chris Sprowls extends early lead in House District 65 race

Sprowls is running against first-time candidate Kelly Johnson.
Florida House Speaker-Designate Chris Sprowls and Kelly Johnson vie for the Florida House District 65 seat in 2020.
Florida House Speaker-Designate Chris Sprowls and Kelly Johnson vie for the Florida House District 65 seat in 2020. [ Courtesy of the candidates ]
Published Nov. 4, 2020|Updated Nov. 4, 2020

Incumbent candidate Chris Sprowls took a commanding lead in his race for reelection to represent House District 65 in Tallahassee. Sprowls is slated to become the House speaker for the 2020-2022 term.

“We’re super excited that the voters decided to send me back to Tallahassee," Sprowls said. “We have a lot of work to do coming out of the pandemic.”

Sprowls, one of the rising Republican stars in Florida politics, is ahead with about 61 percent of votes with all Pinellas precincts reporting. He is ahead of Democrat Kelly Johnson, a 48-year-old restaurant manager and personal trainer, who has just under 39 percent of the vote. These numbers do not include provisional ballots or 10 day overseas ballots. Sprowls has held the seat since 2014. Winning this race will make this his fourth term in the Florida House.

“I’m a little disappointed," said Johnson. "I thought (the race) was going to be a little bit closer.”

Both Johnson and Sprowls ran unopposed in the primary. Throughout his campaign, Sprowls has pointed to what he describes as a record of protecting consumers and keeping families safe. Johnson focused on the glitches in Florida’s unemployment system, calling for a complete audit, as well as protecting health care for all citizens.

Sprowls raised over $350,000 in campaign contributions. Johnson brought in just over $17,000 during the course of the campaign.

Johnson was endorsed by the Democratic Environmental Caucus of Florida, Moms Demand Action, Indivisible Action Tampa Bay and the Democratic Hispanic Caucus of Florida’s Pinellas County Chapter.

“I’m going to keep fighting," said Johnson, who plans to run for office in future elections. “The people who I’m fighting for are way more important than my win or loss.”

State representatives can serve up to four two-year terms, earning $29,697 per year. House District 65 covers north Pinellas County, including Tarpon Springs, Dunedin, Largo and Clearwater.

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