State Rep. Amanda Murphy won re-election Tuesday to the state House, earning a two-year term after winning a bruising special election last year to replace Mike Fasano in west Pasco's District 36.
Murphy, D-New Port Richey, captured more than 54 percent of the vote with 33 of 35 precincts reporting to best Republican Chris Gregg, who had made job growth, less government regulation and his own party affiliation the centerpieces of his campaign. But the public wasn't buying Gregg's pitch — that a Republican needed to represent the west Pasco district simply because the GOP holds a majority in the Legislature.
"We'll take that. I can take a breath for a minute," Murphy said as she learned the results. Her victory, she said, was about "doing the right thing. People paid attention and people noticed that I went up there (to Tallahassee) and tried to do everything I said I would. I hope that's what it's about."
After visiting 10 voting precincts from Bayonet Point to Holiday on Tuesday, Murphy celebrated the results with a crowd of 100 people at the Boulevard Beef & Ale in downtown New Port Richey. It was the same location she used a year ago because her campaign supporters, she said, were superstitious.
Gregg picked up the backing of the small-business owners trade group but failed to land substantial backing from Republican heavyweights who had aided him in his primary campaign. Against Murphy, Gregg skipped multiple candidate forums and there were no signs of the negative campaigning that had dominated last year's special election. The race was so free of animosity that last month Murphy tweeted a selfie while posing with Gregg on the campaign trail, tagging it #keepingitclean.
Murphy, who was endorsed by Fasano, a Republican, is popular on both sides of the political aisle. Over the course of the campaign, she picked up contributions from diverse sources, ranging from the Police Benevolent Association to Libertarian political consultant Danielle Alexandre.