Port St. Joe Republican Jason Shoaf has overwhelmed Democrat Ryan Terrell of Tallahassee in the race to succeed former state Rep. Halsey Beshears for House District 7.
In a Tuesday special election, Shoaf had approximately 70 percent of the vote to Terrell’s 30 percent and led Terrell 10,439 to 4,392.
Beshears, a Monticello Republican, vacated the seat after he was appointed by Gov. Ron DeSantis to become Secretary of the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation.
“Our communities deserve a voice in Tallahassee, especially in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael. I am incredibly proud to take on this role, and I guarantee our voice will be heard,” Shoaf said in a statement.
“I’ll make sure they know the devastation and destruction that Hurricane Michael brought on our region, and the families and businesses that are still struggling nearly one year later,” he added. “I’ll make sure they know that we’re not willing to compromise our values. The right to life, the right to bear arms and the right to pursue the American Dream – these values are not for sale.
“And I’ll make sure they know we care about our kids. The best and most important investment we can make is in their future. I want to bring more skills and training programs to our high schools so that students can learn the skills they need to find good-paying jobs.”
“On behalf of Speaker Jose Oliva and all our Republican colleagues, we are thrilled to welcome soon-to-be … Representative Shoaft to the Florida House of Representatives. (He) ran on conservative, common-sense ideas that clearly resonated with the voters, said Rep. Chris Sprowls, the member in charge of the Florida House Republican Conference’s campaign arm.
Sprowls said that Maggard will assume office immediately upon the certification of his election returns and will participate in the legislative committee meetings that will resume in September leading up to the start of the regular legislative session in January 2020.
District 7 is a sprawling, largely rural district made up of Calhoun, Franklin, Gulf, Jefferson, Lafayette, Liberty, Madison, Taylor, Wakulla and part of Leon counties.
Parts of District 7, such as Calhoun, Franklin, Gulf and Liberty counties, sustained heavy damage in October’s Hurricane Michael, and both candidates made hurricane recovery an issue during the campaign.
Registered Democrats outnumber Republicans in the district by about 9,000 voters, but such registration numbers can be deceiving in rural parts of the state where many conservative voters have traditionally registered as Democrats, but cast ballots for Republicans in state and national races.
Beshears, for example, won the seat by 21 percentage points in 2012 and was unopposed in his 2014, 2016 and 2018 re-election campaigns.
Shoaf, currently a vice president for the St. Joe Natural Gas Co., defeated three other Republicans in an April primary. He’s dominated fundraising in the race.
He raised $265,136, including pulling in money from lobbying firms, business groups and companies that are major players in the Capitol, according to a finance report filed Friday. Terrell raised $6,146.
Background from The News Service of Florida, republished with permission.