Former Zephyrhills mayor and City Council member Danny Burgess has a new line to add to his political resume: state representative and successor to Rep. Will Weatherford.
Burgess, a Republican, easily won the race for state House District 38, covering east and central Pasco County, a seat held for the past eight years by Weatherford, the outgoing House speaker. Burgess, a Dade City lawyer and captain in the Army Reserve, collected 60 percent of the vote to overwhelm Democrat Beverly Ledbetter, a retired high school social studies teacher.
Burgess, 28, celebrated with a boisterous roomful of supporters cheering his victory speech at the Abbott Station restaurant in downtown Zephyrhills.
Ledbetter, 61, made public education the centerpiece of her campaign while highlighting Burgess' limited life experience and his acceptance of campaign contributions from Duke Energy and Big Sugar. Ledbetter ran a shoestring campaign, with much of her $37,000 account coming via small donations from Pasco residents. She received contributions from political action committees for educators and organized labor, but reported no financial assistance or in-kind help from the state Democratic Party.
"We had a Democrat in the race, people had a choice and they had to work for the seat. So in that respect, I'm feeling good,'' Ledbetter said. "If there was anything that we did wrong, we were outspent."
Burgess outpaced Ledbetter's fundraising by a 4-1 margin, including 87 individual contributions from lobbyists, consultants and PACs.
Times staff writer Claire McNeill contributed to this report.