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Politics

Military veterans win congressional primaries

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Published:   |   Updated: March 19, 2013 at 12:02 AM

Two military veterans, one of them an incumbent, appear to have handily won their Republican congressional primaries today.

Evelio "E.J." Otero Jr., 51, a retired Air Force colonel, beat Eddie Adams Jr., 58. He will face three-term incumbent Kathy Castor in November in the District 14 House race.

Rep. Tom Rooney, 41, a former Army captain, beat Joe Arnold, 37, and will take on Democrat William Bronson and write-in candidate Tom Baumann in the November general election for the District 17 seat. Rooney sits on the influential House Armed Services Committee.

"The establishment way of thinking and doing things are about to change,'' Otero said of his victory. "We are going to have a candidacy concentrating on jobs — saving jobs in Tampa, creating jobs in Tampa, putting a strong plan in place on how to reach out to Latin America for investments for the Tampa Bay region.''

Rooney said Florida voters sent "a clear message that they're ready to send principled conservatives to Washington who will help the private sector rebuild our economy and put Americans back to work, cut spending and balance our budgets and promote a strong national defense."

The District 11 primary was a race between a political novice and a candidate making a fifth run for office.

Otero, running for the first time, retired in 2010 after 28 years in the military, serving the last 14 years in Tampa at both U.S. Central Command and U.S. Special Operations Command.

Adams, 58, owns Adams & Associates Residential Design, a Temple Terrace firm providing design services for new homes and home renovations. This marks his fifth shot at office, and fourth for the seat held by Castor.

Otero raised more than $73,000 compared to $1,500 by Adams' campaign.

The candidates in the Republican primary for congressional District 17 also raised dramatically different amounts of money — $928,686 for Rooney compared with Arnold's $9,920.

Rooney is a sitting congressman who was first elected in 2009 to represent what was District 16.

Rooney worked as a JAG Corps prosecutor, a professor at West Point, an aide for U.S. Sen. Connie Mack III and an assistant attorney general.

Arnold is a former chemistry teacher and small cattle ranch owner who has served on the Okeechobee School Board since 2002. He works as a conference center specialist at Indian River State College.

Due to redistricting, the newly formed, mostly rural District 17 spans 10 counties and starts in southern Hillsborough County, with more than 111,000 voters in southern Riverview, Balm, Wimauma, Sun City Center and a slice of eastern Ruskin.

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