RES PUBLICA

Politics, Politicians, and Current Events Examined

Pinellas Legislative Delegation and Circuit Court Bench Become More Conservative

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By Spartacus Thrace

Elections do have consequences, and one palpable consequence of the November 2 election is that the legislative and judicial branches of government in Pinellas County have gotten more conservative, and more Republican.

In the legislative races, all Republican incumbents were returned and two long-serving “moderate” Democrat incumbents, Janet Long and Bill Heller, lost their seats in the House of Representatives to conservative Republican challengers Larry Ahern and Jeff Brandes. The election of Larry Ahern is particularly significant in that he was in a three-way race against a moderate female Democrat with vastly superior financial support for her campaign and a female candidate from the so-called “TEA Party” who some observers believe was a ringer who entered the race with with the sole purpose of drawing votes away from Ahern.

In the the two circuit court judicial races in which Pinellas County voters had a say, the voters chose the more conservative candidate (Keith Meyer and Patricia “Trish” Muscarella) on the ballot. In the Group 18 race, conservative Muscarella won in her race against liberal Kathryn Marie Welsh, whose open admiration of Elena Kagan at a judicial candidates forum became the subject of a YouTube video that was widely circulated among conservative groups.

The results of the Pinellas County legislative races and the Sixth Judicial Circuit Court races were as follows:1

STATE LEGISLATIVE RACES

State Senate District 16:

Jack Latvala (R) 48,170 in Pinellas County + 32,200 in Hillsborough County = 80,370
Nina Hayden (D) 29,412 in Pinellas County + 15,861 in Hillsborough County = 45,093

State House District 48:

Peter Nehr (R) (Incumbent) 28,446 in Pinellas County + 1,179 in Pasco County = 25,625
Tom McKone (D) 17,599 in Pinellas County + 889 in Pasco County = 18,488

State House District 50:

Ed Hooper (R) (Incumbent) 23,357
Shelly Leonard (D) 15,623

State House District 51:

Larry Ahern (R) 22,286
Janet Long (D) (Incumbent) 19,439
Victoria Torres (TEA) 2,448

House District 52:

Jeff Brandes (R) 20,894
Bill Heller (D) (Incumbent) 19,649

House District 53:

Thomas Cuba (R) 13,147
Rick Kriseman (D) (Incumbent) 18,451

House District 54:

James “Jim” Frishe (R) (Incumbent) 29,455
Mary Russell (D) 18,868

House District 55:

Darryl Rouson (D) (Incumbent) 15,789
WRITE-IN 650

SIXTH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT RACES

Group 18:

Patricia “Trish” Muscarella 137,020 in Pinellas County + 64,214 in Pasco County = 201,234
Kathryn Marie Welsh 102,543 in Pinellas County + 46,164 in Pasco County = 148,707

Group 27:

Keith Meyer 132,565 in Pinellas County + 53,315 in Pasco County = 185,880
Jeff O’Brien 100,218 in Pinellas County + 53,697 in Pasco County = 153,915
___________

1 Compiled from statistics provided by the supervisors of elections in Pasco, Pinellas and Hillsborough counties.

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