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Here’s who won Florida legislative primary races in Tampa Bay

10 legislative seats were on the ballot Tuesday.
Members of the Florida House of Representatives give Speaker of the House Chris Sprowls a standing ovation after Sprowls gave his farewell speech and had his official portrait unveiled during a legislative session at the Florida State Capitol, Thursday, March 10, 2022, in Tallahassee.
Members of the Florida House of Representatives give Speaker of the House Chris Sprowls a standing ovation after Sprowls gave his farewell speech and had his official portrait unveiled during a legislative session at the Florida State Capitol, Thursday, March 10, 2022, in Tallahassee. [ WILFREDO LEE | AP ]
Published Aug. 24, 2022|Updated Aug. 25, 2022

TALLAHASSEE — A new slate of Florida lawmakers took another step toward Tallahassee on Tuesday night.

In Tampa Bay, 10 state legislative seats had at least one primary race Tuesday. For some Republican candidates, Tuesday’s results were an outright win because Democrats didn’t field any opponents. (Because of redistricting, every seat was redrawn, so every seat was up for grabs this year.)

The candidates are vying to join a 160-seat state Legislature that will remain firmly in Republican control, as it has for about the past three decades.

Related: Florida redistricting map: How will your new district look — and vote?

The Legislature, which has seen its influence wane under Gov. Ron DeSantis, will be expected to carry out his conservative agenda when it reconvenes for its annual 60-day legislative session in March.

Here are Tuesday’s results:

Senate District 20

Jim Boyd is running for Florida Senate District 20.
Jim Boyd is running for Florida Senate District 20. [ Boyd campaign ]

Republican incumbent Jim Boyd, who has been in office since 2020, was reelected for his second term Tuesday night in the race for the state Senate seat representing parts of Manatee County and southern Hillsborough County, with 80% of votes as of 8:30 p.m.

Boyd, 65, was running against Thonotosassa 75-year-old retiree John Houman, who brought in 20% of the vote. It was a universal primary, open to all voters since no Democrat ran for this seat.

Boyd is the CEO of Boyd Insurance & Investments. He previously served four terms in the Florida House of Representatives from 2010 to 2018. He currently serves as chairperson of the Senate’s Banking and Insurance Committee.

House District 53

Jeff Holcomb
Jeff Holcomb

Hernando County Commissioner Jeff Holcomb won the Republican race, with 83% of the votes, for the House seat representing the west side of Hernando County and northwestern part of Pasco County, according to unofficial results Tuesday.

Holcomb, 51, previously served as chairperson of the Hernando County Republican Executive Committee and is a U.S. Navy intelligence officer. He faced Realtor and author Anthony Kocovic, 54, who got about 17% of the votes.

The Republican primary winner for this red-leaning district will face Democrat Keith G. Laufenberg in the November general election.

House District 55

Kevin M. Steele, 51, owner of a health care technology company, won the three-way Republican race for Pasco County’s House District 55 on Tuesday night, garnering 59% of tallied votes as of 10:30 p.m.

Gabriel Papadopoulos, a 60-year-old New Port Richey pastor, came in second with 28% of the vote. U.S. Army veteran Brad Sollberger, 48, finished last with 13% of the votes.

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Steele will face Constitution Party candidate Charles “C.J.” Hacker Jr. in November’s general election.

Encompassing part of Pasco County previously divided between House Districts 37 and 38, the new District 55 represents about 175,000 people.

House District 56

Brad Yeager
Brad Yeager [ JENN CARROLL | Courtesy of Brad Yeager ]

In this Pasco County seat, Republican Brad Yeager pulled away from his two opponents, gathering nearly 46% of the votes with all precincts reporting.

His two GOP opponents, retired law enforcement officer Scott Moore, 62, and University of South Florida student Jayden Cocuzza, 20, had 29% and 25%, respectively.

Yeager, a 46-year-old general manager of a vehicle auctions company, launched his campaign with the endorsements of several notable Pasco County politicos, including Senate President Wilton Simpson and county Tax Collector Mike Fasano.

No Democrat filed to run for the seat, so all registered voters were allowed to vote in the race. Yeager is now heading to Tallahassee.

House District 58

Kimberly Berfield.
Kimberly Berfield. [ Kimberly Berfield ]

Kimberly Berfield, 51, has won the Republican primary for House District 58, earning about 54% of the votes with all precincts reported as of 7:59 p.m. Berfield, who is the vice president of government affairs and community health for Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital, previously served in the Florida House from 2000 to 2006.

Jason Holloway, 30, earned 29% of the votes, while adjunct educator Jim Vricos earned 18%.

District 58 includes the cities of Clearwater, Indian Rocks Beach and Belleair Beach and was largely represented by outgoing state Rep. Chris Latvala, who endorsed Berfield before the primary.

Bernard "Bernie" Fensterwald.
Bernard "Bernie" Fensterwald. [ Bernard Fensterwald ]

In the Democratic primary for the same district, 71-year-old Bernard Fensterwald sailed to victory, earning 63% of the votes with 100% of precincts reported.

Fensterwald is a multimillionaire businessman, and he knocked out 74-year-old opponent and businessman Joseph Saportas, who earned 37% of the votes.

House District 59

Berny Jacques, a former assistant state attorney and TV political commentator.
Berny Jacques, a former assistant state attorney and TV political commentator. [ Berny Jacques ]

Berny Jacques, 35, a former prosecutor who is an executive at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Tampa Bay and sits on Florida’s 6th Circuit Judicial Nominating Commission, came out on top of the mid-Pinellas Republican primary Tuesday night with 51% of the votes.

In a race to prove who has the conservative values the district needs, he bested Jennifer Wilson, 39, a business lawyer and past senior adviser to former local Republicans Jack Latvala, Victor Crist and Tom Lee.

Though she was the top fundraiser, Wilson came in second with 35% of the votes. Dipak Nadkarni, 62, a retired Navy physician, trailed with 14% of the votes.

Jacques will face Democrat Dawn Douglas in the November general election.

House District 62

Michele Rayner, 2022 candidate for Florida House of Representatives
Michele Rayner, 2022 candidate for Florida House of Representatives [ handout ]

Michele K. Rayner is in the hunt for another term in the Florida Legislature.

Rayner, 40, the incumbent of District 70 — which was redrawn and renumbered this year to keep southern St. Petersburg but also include only the east Hillsborough areas of East Tampa, Gibsonton and Riverview — survived a Democratic melee Tuesday night in a new district with 53% of the votes.

She was challenged by her District 70 predecessor, Wengay Newton, 58, who was in second place with 38%, as about 10:30 p.m. Retired Marine and attorney Jesse Philippe, 34, had garnered 9% of the votes.

Rayner will now face Republican nominee and insurrectionist Jeremy M. Brown, who is currently in custody at the Pinellas County Jail on charges related to the Jan. 6, 2021, attack at the U.S. Capitol.

House District 65

Businesswoman Karen Gonzalez Pittman led Tuesday’s Republican race for House District 65, securing 44% of the votes with all precincts reported.

She was holding off 31-year-old businessman Jake Hoffman (who got 42% of the votes) and lawyer Michael Minardi, 47, who got 14%. If she is victorious, Gonzalez Pittman, 60, will face Democrat and local business owner Jen McDonald in November.

Pittman was endorsed by state Rep. Jackie Toledo, who represents this area but who ran for Congress.

Related: Tampa-based state House race could showcase new style of campaigning

The district covers South Tampa and parts of Westchase and closely resembles the former House District 60, represented by Republicans for decades. But redistricting has made the district slightly Democratic-leaning.

House District 68

Republican Lawrence McClure is running for Florida's House District 68.
Republican Lawrence McClure is running for Florida's House District 68.

Republican incumbent Lawrence McClure sailed to victory in the primary race for Florida’s 68th House District, which spans the northeastern corner of Hillsborough County and includes Plant City.

McClure, 35, took 80% of the vote, with 100% of precincts reporting as of 10:40 p.m. Political newcomer Paul Hatfield, 65, garnered 20%.

McClure has served five prior sessions in the Florida House representing this area, although the district’s boundaries shifted this year during redistricting.

A lifelong resident of Hillsborough County who now works in business consulting and real estate, McClure will face Democrat Lorissa Wright in November’s general election.

House District 69

Danny Alvarez
Danny Alvarez [ Provided ]

Republican Danny Alvarez cruised to victory Tuesday night, earning the chance to take on a sitting Democratic state representative in November.

Alvarez, 47, a lawyer, former sheriff’s official and longtime Republican political activist, received 85% of the vote compared to his GOP opponent, anti-abortion activist Megan Angel Petty, 64, with all precincts reporting.

He now faces Democratic Rep. Andrew Learned for the southeast Hillsborough County seat.

Tampa Bay Times staff writers Bernadette Berdychowski, Colleen Wright, Olivia George and Lauren Peace contributed to this report.

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