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State Sen. Jeff Clemens

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Jeff Clemens defeats Irv Slosberg in SD 31, Waldman loses in SD 34

Jeff Clemens is headed back to the Florida Senate.

Clemens, a Lake Worth Democrat, defeated Irv Slosberg in the Senate District 31 race. According to preliminary election results, Clemens received 50 percent of the vote, followed by Slosberg with 32 percent. Emmanuel G. Morel came in third with 18 percent.

Clemens was first elected to the Florida Senate in 2012, after serving one term in the Florida House. He faced limited opposition in his re-election bid, until Slosberg switched races in the final hours of the qualifying period.

First elected to the Florida House in 2000, Slosberg served there until 2006. He was elected again in 2010, and has made driver safety a benchmark of his career.

The race is one of the most expensive Senate races in the state. Slosberg loaned his campaign nearly $1.9 million. He’s spent more than $1.8 million, including $1.4 million on advertising and $99,982 on data research.

And while some Republican races focused on who was more conservative, the race between Clemens and Slosberg was a battle of just who was a better Democrat.

A political committee backing Clemens sent mailers to voters using decade-old quote from former Rep. Robert Wexler. In 2006, Wexler called Slosberg an “agent of the Republican Party.” The comments, the Palm Beach Post reported, were made in the midst of a heated state Senate primary between Slosberg and Ted Deutsch.

Wexler came to Slosberg’s defense, saying in text messages provided to the media that it was “not an accurate portrayal and was done without my knowledge or consent.”

Slosberg fired back, sending mailers to voters saying Clemens was trying to hide his “dangerously conservative record” from voters.

A tracking survey by Associated Industries of Florida in July showed Slosberg was in the lead. But a follow-up poll by AIF in August showed Clemens led Slosberg by four points.

Clemens’ name will be on the November ballot, but his only opposition is a write-in candidate.

Nearby, the race for the 30th Senate District saw state Rep. Bobby Powell win a contentious Democratic primary against West Palm Beach attorney Michael Steinger by a 67 percent-33 percent as of 10 p.m. Tuesday.

The two got personal, with Steinger’s campaign running an ad featuring a mugshot of Powell’s father.

Powell fired back by bringing up Steinger’s father, who is currently serving a 20-year prison sentence.

Powell now will face Republican Ron Berman in the general election, though the coastal Palm Beach County district carries a sizable advantage for Democrats.

The 34th Senate District, another Democratic safe zone, had trial attorney Gary Farmer taking 43 percent to former House Democratic Whip Jim Waldman’s 28 percent and state Rep. Gwyndolen Clarke-Reed’s 29 percent.

Those numbers were as of 10 p.m. Tuesday.

Farmer is expected to overcome both Republican Antoanet Iotova of Hollywood and write-in contender and flight attendant Valerie Saffran, also of Hollywood, in November.

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