MANATEE — Three Republicans newcomers slugged it out to be their party’s nominee for the District 67 state House seat being vacated by the term-limited Ron Reagan, but in the end Greg Steube won it going away.
In unofficial results posted on supervisors of elections websites Tuesday night, Steube had a decisive lead in Manatee, Sarasota and Hillsborough counties.
“I’m very happy with the campaign, we stayed positive, we stayed on message,” said Steube, who will attend a leadership meeting Thursday in Tallahassee with other GOP primary winners from around the state. “I’m going right to work on the general election.”
In Manatee, Steube took 57 percent of the vote, followed by Jeremiah Guccione with 27 percent and Robert McCann with 15 percent in unofficial returns. Although their percentages of the vote varied in Sarasota and Hillsborough, the order remained the same as in Manatee.
Steube celebrated his win at the Polo Grill in Lakewood Ranch, while Guccione watched returns from home with friends and family, and McCann watched at a private party.
Contacted at home, Guccione said he was a little disappointed in the outcome, but knew it would be a tough race, and that he considered his foray into politics a first step. He hinted that he might try again sometime in another race.
“Greg ran a very good race. He was a very good candidate and a good Republican. I’ll be happy to support him,” Guccione said.
The district covers all of East Manatee and parts of Sarasota County and Hillsborough County. The race to replace Reagan, a job paying $31,932 a year, proved to be one of the most expensive House contests in the state.
Greg Steube, 32, collected $239,372.82 to swamp his competitors. McCann, 53, had $101,689.33 in contributions, and Guccione, 34, had $79,483.29.
In addition, Guccione listed a loan of $57,002.95 and McCann listed a loan of $25,000. Steube listed no loans.
Steube will face Democrat Z.J. Hafeez and no-party candidate John M. Studebaker in the Nov. 2 general election.
Steube, an Army veteran of the war in Iraq, and a local attorney, is the eldest son of Sheriff Brad Steube. He touted his local roots as a Manatee County native, Southeast High School graduate and his knowledge of local agriculture.
McCann, an attorney and emergency room physician, talked about his life experiences and the common-sense approach he would bring to the legislature.
Guccione, who works in his family’s health-care business, cited his experience operating a company, creating jobs and running a nonprofit charity to help find adoptive homes for children.
All three of the candidates talked about the need to improve the Florida economy, create jobs and hold the line on state spending.
In the House District 55 race, incumbent Darryl Rouson, of St. Petersburg, appeared to retain his seat with big leads in Manatee, Sarasota and Pinellas counties.
Rouson was also the recipient of the most monetary contributions in his race: $87,307. He was challenged in the Democratic primary by April Sheffield, of Sarasota. She reported contributions of $2,310.77. Joseph L. Graser, of Sarasota, was a write-in candidate. He reported no contributions, according to the Florida Division of Elections website. There is no Republican candidate in the Nov. 2 general election.
District 55 covers parts of Manatee, Sarasota, Pinellas and Hillsborough counties.
James A. Jones Jr., East Manatee Editor, can be contacted at 745-7021.