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Thursday, Sep 18, 2014

Sen. Latvala, four newcomers win Pinellas Legislative races

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— There were few surprises in the primaries for five Pinellas County legislative seats Tuesday.

Incumbent District 20 State Sen. Jack Latvala, a Clearwater Republican, handily defeated Zahid Roy. For the State House District 67 seat, Latvala’s son, Chris Latvala, won his GOP primary against newcomer Christopher Shepard. Bill Young II defeated cab driver Joshua Black by a substantial margin in his House District. 68 primary bid. North county Republican Chris Sprowls defeated primary opponent Debbie Faulkner for the party’s House District 65 seat.

In the sole Democratic primary for a Pinellas legislative seat, House District 67 hopeful Steve Sarnoff flew by opponents Shawna Vercher and Thomas Ryan to win his party’s nomination.

The four Republican primaries had a similar dynamic. Each featured two candidates: one well-known among local GOP circles and well-funded, and one with fewer connections and a fraction of the fund raising prowess.

Sen. Latvala defeated Roy for the second time. Latvala, an outspoken prospective senate president, out raised Roy nearly 200-1 in candidate contributions.

Chris Latvala also skated through his primary fight the District 67 seat, which covers parts of Largo and Clearwater. He defeated Shepard by about a 2-1 margin. The younger Latvala, who raised $251,760 to Shepard’s $2,120, now faces Sarnoff in the general.

Sarnoff raised $18,878 to Vercher’s $29,273. Ryan raised $3,047.

“I’m overwhelmed with the margin of my victory over two opponents in the primary,” Sarnoff said. “The margin was much larger than I thought it would be.”

Young, meanwhile, easily won against Black. Young is the son of former longtime Congressman C.W. Bill Young, who died last year. Black, a cab driver, essentially was shunned by the party after making controversial comments on Twitter regarding President Obama. Young raised some $148,042; Black raised $8,792.

Young now faces incumbent Democrat Dwight Dudley in the November general election.

Sprowls, a prosecutor, beat Faulkner, a tax attorney, and now faces a race against incumbent Democrat Carl Zimmerman.

Sprowls out raised Faulkner significantly, pulling in $235,011 to her $13,083, but Tuesday night he attributed his win to an extensive grass roots effort in the district.

“I think that it’s indicative of the fact that we’ve walked to 20,000 doors in northern Pinellas County,” he said.

The general election is November 4.

kbradshaw@tampatrib.com

(727) 215-7999

Twitter: @kbradshawTBO

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