SARASOTA, Fla. -- Bottom line from last night’s Sarasota and Manatee county races – the incumbents did well and voters indicated the current philosophy in county commission, school board, and hospital board deliberations should stay somewhat static.
While turnout remained relatively low, as is normal for primary races, early and absentee voting helped drive the total numbers to around 20% in both counties.
The Sarasota County School Board District 1 race was on the most closely watched with four candidates vying for the seat. By night’s end, voters sent Ken Marsh and Bridget Ziegler into a November general election run-off. Ziegler’s candidacy has been a lightning rod since being recently appointed to the seat by Governor Rick Scott. The Hospital Board remained intact – that race being driven by issues around privatization speculation of Sarasota Memorial Hospital. County commission races followed suit with Paul Caragiulo and Alan Maio having a more favorable view of regional economic development.
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In the governor’s race, the national spotlight was shining on Florida politics once again as Charlie Crist won his primary race setting up what could one of the most expensive and most negative races in the fall elections. Republicans were watching the Crist numbers closely to find any vulnerabilities in his support across the state. With almost $30m already spent in this race, there is talk that Democrats could pour as much as $50m into the race and also bring in national surrogate Democrats to combat what is expected to be extremely heavy spending by Rick Scott. Another factor in the race - independent candidate Adrian Wyllie who will look to pull numbers from both candidates.