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Shoaf Wins In North Florida Special Election

TALLAHASSEE --- Republicans Jason Shoaf and Randy Maggard won special elections Tuesday for House seats in North Florida and Pasco County, keeping the districts in GOP hands.

Shoaf, of Port St. Joe, will succeed former Rep. Halsey Beshears, a Monticello Republican who left the House District 7 seat early this year when he was appointed secretary of the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation.

As of 8:30 p.m. Eastern time, Shoaf had captured about 71 percent of the vote in the largely rural district, while Democrat Ryan Terrell had received about 29 percent, according to numbers posted on the state Division of Elections website. All precincts had reported in eight of the 10 counties in the district, which is made up of Calhoun, Franklin, Gulf, Jefferson, Lafayette, Liberty, Madison, Taylor, Wakulla and part of Leon counties.

Maggard, of Dade City, topped Wesley Chapel Democrat Kelly Smith in Pasco County’s House District 38, which opened when former Rep. Danny Burgess, R-Zephyrhills, was appointed executive director of the Florida Department of Veterans’ Affairs. With all precincts reporting, Maggard captured 55.6 percent of the vote, while Smith received 44.4 percent, according to the Division of Elections website.

With Tuesday’s special elections, Coral Springs Democrat Dan Daley also takes his seat in Broward County’s House District 97, which became vacant when former Rep. Jared Moskowitz, D-Coral Springs, was named director of the state Division of Emergency Management. Daley was unopposed in running to replace Moskowitz, but House Speaker Jose Oliva, R-Miami Lakes, would not seat Daley until after Tuesday’s special election.

The victories by Shoaf and Maggard came in districts that have long been represented by Republicans --- Beshears had held the District 7 seat since 2012, while Burgess was elected in 2014 and followed former House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, in District 38.

Also, Shoaf and Maggard had major financial advantages over their opponents.

Shoaf raised $265,136, including pulling in money from lobbying firms, business groups and companies that are major players in the Capitol, according to a finance report filed Friday. Terrell raised $6,146.

Maggard raised $163,501 and loaned $50,000 to his campaign, with money coming recently from groups such as the Florida Chamber of Commerce, Florida Realtors and the National Federation of Independent Business. Smith raised $44,657, with most of the money coming in small-dollar donations.

The wins by Shoaf and Maggard --- along with Daley taking office --- mean that the partisan split of the Republican-dominated House will be the same as after the November elections. Republicans hold a 73-47 advantage.

Shoaf comes into office as parts of his district continue to try to recover from devastation in October’s Hurricane Michael. Shoaf’s home county, Gulf, along with areas such as Calhoun, Franklin and Liberty counties sustained heavy damage in the storm.