Mike Moore raised a lot of money in his quest to become a member of the Pasco County Commission, but even he knew with Pasco’s history of upsets in commission races, there never was a guarantee.
Yet, Moore’s fundraising and campaign both paid off, as he won the last open seat on the commission, and will keep retiring Pat Mulieri’s seat in Republican hands.
With 97 percent of precincts reporting in Pasco just after 8:30 p.m., Moore had a 59-41 lead — or more than 26,600 votes — separating him from Democratic challenger Erika Remsberg. Moore will now join Mike Wells Jr. as new members of the commission, after Wells ousted Henry Wilson Jr. in the open primary last August.
Moore earned endorsements from various government and civic leaders, but could not pick them up from media outlets that offered them, or even the outgoing Mulieri, who chose to cross party lines and endorse Remsberg instead.
The state House seat representing the eastern and central parts of Pasco also stays in Republican hands after former Zephyrhills mayor Danny Burgess defeated retired teacher Beverly Ledbetter 60-40. That race was to decide who would replace House Speaker Will Weatherford, who is stepping down because of term limits.
Like Moore, Burgess also dominated in fundraising, raising more than $160,000, compared to $38,600 from Ledbetter. However, both candidates took a little heat in the days leading up to the election for not spending more of those dollars within their district. Burgess also took some hits for accepting money from Duke Energy, which has received negative attention in the last few months over charging customers for two nuclear power plants that no longer exist.
The tight race for governor proved to be especially tight in Pasco. Although Charlie Crist maintained a slim lead through early votes and absentees, Rick Scott flipped that with Election Day voting, and ended up winning Pasco by a very small, 47-45 advantage. That was the difference of 2,300 votes.
Adrian Wyllie, the Libertarian in the race, garnered 7 percent of the votes.
Pasco County’s elections supervisor Brian Corley said there were still some long lines waiting at precincts even after 7 p.m. when polls were supposed to close, including at Rasmussen College on State Road 54 and Sunlake Boulevard.
If the rest of the state follows Pasco’s leads, then the only state constitutional amendment expected to pass is Amendment 1, which would allow Florida to enhance its conservation land holdings. The medical marijuana amendment did get 58 percent support in Pasco, but it needs 60 percent to pass.