Darryl Rouson wins reelection in Florida Senate District 19

The Democratic incumbent was being challenged by a no-party-affiliate cosmetic surgeon.
Sen. Darryl Rouson, D-St. Petersburg, addressing a crowd of protesters on Sunday, July 12, 2020 in St. Petersburg.
Sen. Darryl Rouson, D-St. Petersburg, addressing a crowd of protesters on Sunday, July 12, 2020 in St. Petersburg. [ JONAH HINEBAUGH | Times ]
Published Nov. 4, 2020|Updated Nov. 4, 2020

Democratic state Sen. Darryl Rouson won reelection Tuesday night as voters in his district, which spans parts of both Pinellas and Hillsborough counties, reaffirmed their desire to be represented by him in Tallahassee.

Around 10:15 p.m., Rouson had about 69 percent of the vote, according to the Florida Division of Elections results site, which shows unofficial results. All precincts were reporting in both counties, though some mail-in ballots were still outstanding.

Rouson, who is 65 and lives in St. Petersburg, was elected to his first four-year term in the Florida Senate in 2016, after eight years in the House and serving as Pinellas County’s first Black assistant state attorney. He is also a recovering addict who was once homeless, and he has focused on criminal justice reform issues in the Legislature.

He was facing a challenge from Dr. Christina Paylan, 52, a Tampa-based cosmetic surgeon who is listed as having a Republican voter registration but didn’t run under either party. Her platform included “dismantling this corrupt criminal court system that is sucking up millions in taxpayer dollars," according to her website. She was convicted in 2014 of obtaining a controlled substance by fraud and was sentenced to less than a year in jail. She challenged the conviction and a judge has granted an evidentiary hearing.

Paylan’s campaign had raised just over $1,000 by late October, though she personally loaned tens of thousands to her campaign, records show. Rouson raised around $330,000 for his campaign, plus more than $550,000 through his political committee.

Senate District 19 includes downtown St. Petersburg, downtown Tampa and Riverview. The 40-member state Senate passes bills along with the House, which become law with Gov. Ron DeSantis' signature. Senators earn $29,697 annually.

Times staff writer Josh Solomon contributed to this report.

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