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Joe Wicker

Tampa Bay

Joe Wicker cruises past Ronda Storms in GOP HD 59

Joe Wicker cruised to a solid victory Tuesday night over long-time political face Ronda Storms to secure the Republican nomination in HD 59.

Wicker had 54 percent of the vote to Storms’ 46 percent.

Storms called Wicker to concede, saying she congratulated him and adding, “Obviously this is not the result I wanted, but God is good.”

HD 59 covers most of Brandon, as well as Valrico, Dover, Seffner, Riverview, Palm River and Clair-Mel City.

Wicker, a Brandon businessman and Army veteran, filed for the seat a day after incumbent Ross Spano announced his Attorney General bid, which he abandoned after deciding to run for the U.S. House of Representatives.

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Storms, who served in the Hillsborough County Commission from 1998-2006, and later in the state Senate, was a surprise entrant into this race. She didn’t jump in until several months after Wicker’s announcement.

The race turned dirty down the stretch, with mailers attacking Storms that she said wildly misrepresented her views and actions.

One charge was that Storms voted to approve President Barack Obama’s economic stimulus package, which she vehemently denied in a video on her Facebook page, later repeating that in an interview with Florida Politics.

“That is patently false,” she said. “I never – no, never – voted for President Obama’s stimulus package.”

She repeated that denial for another mailer that said she didn’t do anything about illegal immigration while in office.

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“That is also patently false,” she said.

Wicker had to take a break from campaigning a week before the primary after his wife gave birth to what Wicker called on his Facebook page “our newest constituent” – 10-pound, 14-ounce Savannah Leigh Wicker.

Wicker explained his momentary absence by saying, “A man that cannot serve his family cannot serve the community.”

He had the endorsement of the Florida Chamber of Commerce and was endorsed by the Tampa Bay Times.

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I have a 45-year career in newspapers, including nearly 42 years at The Tampa Tribune. Florida is wacky, wonderful, unpredictable and a national force. It's a treat to have a front-row seat for it all.

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