Incumbent Republican Rep. Vern Buchanan closed in on a win Tuesday night to enter his sixth term as a U.S. representative.
As of 9 p.m., Buchanan had almost 60 percent, or 227,996, of the vote while his Democratic opponent Jan Schneider had 40 percent, or 153,125 votes.
One of the wealthiest members of Congress, Buchanan has been at the forefront of the district’s fight against heroin and prescription opioid abuse. In traditional GOP fashion, he champions a balanced budget amendment, lower tax rates and a hard line on illegal immigration.
Never miss a local story.
At a celebration party where Buchanan said “a couple thousand” people turned out, he spoke of uniting the country’s leadership to tackle what he sees as vital issues in District 16.
“We gotta find a way we can all work together,” Buchanan said. “People are very frustrated with what's happening in Washington because nothing is getting done.” He said creating well-paying jobs and a healthy climate for small business are two of his top priorities, and he emphasized the need for funding to combat Zika and citrus greening.
“And then I think the other big thing is being able to get affordable health care,” he said. “Obamacare today isn't working for many small businesses or employees, as well. We gotta find a way to really reduce cost of health care.”
“I congratulate Vern Buchanan,” Schneider said Tuesday night. “We’re generally disappointed with Democrats in Manatee and Sarasota.” As far as her future plans, Schneider said she’ll “figure that out tomorrow.”
Schneider recognized early on that she wouldn’t be the winner on Tuesday night. But her choice to run in the 2016 election was bigger than snagging the seat in Congress.
She decided to run for Congress while working in New Hampshire last year for Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, her Yale Law School classmate, the Herald previously reported.
“I agreed with Bill and Hillary to do this race because we all knew it was going to come down to Florida,” she said of Clinton’s bid for the White House.