Pasco County Commissioner Pat Mulieri narrowly won Tuesday's Republican primary for District 2 against former state Rep. Ken Littlefield.
The unofficial vote tally showed Mulieri, a 16-year incumbent, eking out a victory over Littlefield, a well-known political figure in central Pasco.
Mulieri will face activist Clay Colson of Land O' Lakes in November's general election. Colson, a registered Democrat, will run with no party affiliation.
This will be Mulieri's first contested general election since 2002. She was unopposed in 2006.
She goes into the November election campaign having raised nearly $39,000 to Colson's $5,600.
Colson welcomed the campaign.
"Either one of them is a career politician," Colson said. "I prefer the one with a record in Pasco County."
Littlefield left his position leading the Statewide Advocacy Council this spring to challenge Mulieri - a race he conceded might be a long shot.
Mulieri seemed genuinely surprised that she didn't beat Littlefield by a wider margin. She won a three-way primary in 2006 with a substantial margin.
"I was hoping for a larger spread," she said. "We did a lot."
Littlefield said the close vote reflected citizens' desire for an alternative to the incumbent, he said.
"I think we've done what we set out to do right from the beginning," Littlefield said. "My aim was to give the people of Pasco a legitimate choice."
Littlefield said he has no plans to run for office in the near future. He now works for Hodges Family Funeral Home in Zephyrhills.
"I enjoy working there," he said.