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Warren headed to reelection in Hillsborough state attorney race

The incumbent state attorney held a comfortable lead Tuesday night over challenger Mike Perotti.
A voter waves at Hillsborough State Attorney Andrew Warren and State Rep. Jackie Toledo, R-Tampa, outside precinct #101 at Port Tampa Park Community Center in Tampa on Election Day, Tue., Nov. 3, 2020.
A voter waves at Hillsborough State Attorney Andrew Warren and State Rep. Jackie Toledo, R-Tampa, outside precinct #101 at Port Tampa Park Community Center in Tampa on Election Day, Tue., Nov. 3, 2020. [ IVY CEBALLO | Times ]
Published Nov. 4, 2020|Updated Nov. 4, 2020

TAMPA — Andrew Warren was poised Tuesday night for reelection as Hillsborough County’s state attorney, leading challenger Mike Perotti by a comfortable margin with nearly all voter precincts reporting.

As of 9 p.m., unofficial results showed Warren with about 53 percent of the vote, while Perotti had close to 47 percent.

“I don’t think what the county wanted has changed," Warren said. "I think they’ve come to see the benefit of reform, and it’s reflected in the margin of victory.”

Perotti conceded the race late Tuesday, saying it was unlikely the remaining ballots would put him over the top.

“I’m absolutely humbled and so appreciative of all the support,” Perotti said. “I’m proud of what we did."

He added that he hoped Warren would work to improve upon some of the criticisms he brought to light in the campaign.

A first-time candidate and a lawyer for the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, Perotti entered the race more than a year after Warren announced his intention to seek reelection. He seized on statistics that showed rising violent crime this year in Tampa’s inner city, calling it evidence that Warren’s reform-minded policies were making crime worse. He also said Warren had made the office too political.

Perotti, 48, boasted the endorsement of the state’s Republican Attorney General Ashley Moody. He also touted support from some in the local law enforcement community.

But he trailed Warren, 43, in overall campaign fundraising. Perotti raised a little more than $160,000, while Warren assembled a war chest of more than $500,000.

Much of Warren’s support came from prominent local lawyers and elected leaders, along with Nikki Fried, the state’s agriculture commissioner and only statewide elected Democrat.

Warren was elected in 2016 on a reform platform, and as state attorney has crafted his own brand of progressive criminal justice.

In his bid for a second term, Warren’s style was to campaign without campaigning. His office regularly drafted press releases to tout initiatives and staged news conferences to discuss high-profile cases.

He did it when he appeared with Hillsborough Sheriff Chad Chronister to announce the arrest of a local pastor who held services during the COVID-19 shutdowns. He did it again when he announced that his office would not bring formal charges against 67 people arrested in June in Tampa during a peaceful demonstration over the death of George Floyd.

Perhaps Warren’s most stunning accomplishment was the role of his newly formed conviction review unit in the exoneration of Robert DuBoise, a man who served 37 years in prison for a murder he did not commit. DuBoise was freed from prison Aug. 27.

Warren asserted that a drop in the overall crime rate in recent years was proof his policies were working.

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“We’re excited by the win and energized by the fact that Hillsborough County supports what was accomplished over the past four years and supports the vision I have for the next four,” he said Tuesday.

The state attorney is responsible for prosecuting all felony and misdemeanor crimes in Hillsborough County. The office has a staff of 287 employees, including 129 lawyers, and an annual budget of just under $30 million. The state attorney serves a four-year term and is paid an annual salary of $169,554.

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