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Keith Perry downs Rod Smith in SD 8 donnybrook

A contentious — and expensive — general election in Senate District 8 went the way of Republican Keith Perry over Democrat Rod Smith.

With 226,438 votes counted throughout the three-county North Central Florida district, Perry was ahead 119,968 to 107,270 — a margin of 52 to 48 percent.

This was a priority race for the Democratic Party, yet Perry got stronger as the race went on.

All told, the candidates raised $1.5 million: Perry raised over $761,000, Smith garnered over $738,000. And each candidate had hundreds of thousands of dollars in in-kind contributions for what easily was the most competitive state Senate race between Ocala and the Georgia line.

Ad buys — both on radio and on television, including in the expensive Jacksonville market (where a Smith ad focused on a Republican endorsement) — were ubiquitous. With public polling in the race close, yet trending Perry’s way, both the GOP and the Democratic Party worked to turn this into a big-time race.

The race also had its share of personal drama, including a moment when Perry engaged in a scuffle with a Gainesville resident removing a Perry sign from a yard. That scuffle ultimately came to nothing.

Written By

A.G. Gancarski has been a working journalist for over two decades, with bylines in national and local publications alike on subjects ranging from pop music to national and global politics. Gancarski has been a correspondent for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014, and has held a column in Jacksonville, Florida's Folio Weekly for two decades. In 2018, he was a finalist for an Association of Alternative Newsweeklies "best political column." Gancarski is a frequent presence on Jacksonville television and radio, including fill-in slots on WJCT-FM's award-winning talk show "First Coast Connect." He can be reached at a.g.gancarski@gmail.com.

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