The Florida statehouse has one new and one old representative from northwest Florida, and one candidate who is looking to make a comeback.
"I drove back over to the house and they told me that the numbers came in!" Alex Andrade is going to Tallahassee. The first time candidate won the Florida Statehouse District 2 primary over fellow Republican Greg Merk by a 60 to 40 margin and there will be no opponent to face in November. He says he’ll work on the issues that are important to northwest Florida. "We have to make sure that our education system continues to improve, that our infrastructure becomes better and that our water quality is clean enough to keep people coming here for the decades to come."
Andrade also says he’s looking forward to joining a strong freshman class in the next legislative session. "I've been in constant contact with the other freshman in this class that have already been elected and they're excited to see me win and I'm excited to get to work with them."
Over in House District one the race is just getting started. "We have been working this campaign for a year now" said Vikki Garrett, the winner of the Democratic nomination for the seat, beating Franscine Mathis by a similar 60 to 40 margin. She says getting into the race so early helped her get a head start on talking to voters about the issues. Now, she plans to reach out to the state party for some assistance with the general election. "After the primary I was waiting to reach out to some key folks. A lot of times the primary is a key factor for them. So, with us having hopefully a good showing we'll be able to garner even more support going forward."
Over on the Republican side in District 1 things were a little closer. Former representative Mike Hill slipped past Rebekah Bydlak by about 540 votes. He credits his military and business background, as well as his experience in the statehouse as keys to the win. "I think when you add all those up into one combination that (the voters) thought that was someone that they wanted to represent them in Tallahassee."
Going forward, Hill says he’ll double down on being the most conservative candidate. "Well the strategy is going to be to continue to focus on conservative issues. That I am a conservative and I vote in a conservative manner. And this area is predominantly also conservative. And so that how I'm going to focus is to continue looking at my conservative voting record when I was in the (Florida) House of Representatives for three years."
For her part, Vikki Garrett says her campaign will adapt to a new opponent. "We've got a couple of things that we are holding out on (for the time being). We'll work out and flesh out some of the strategy after we get through tonight."
In Florida State House District 3 there was no drama at all. Republican incumbent Jayer Williamson ran unopposed in the primary, and he has no opponent in November.