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Kelly Smith faces Randy Maggard in the House District 38 Special Election.

Tampa Bay

Voter turnout barely enters double digits on the eve of Pasco House Special Election

Most of the ballots cast, 5,553, were by Republicans.

Pasco County voters will hit the polls Tuesday to elect a new member to the Florida House of Representatives after going without representation in this year’s Legislative Session.

With early voting closed, a little more than 10 percent of eligible voters have cast a ballot in the race between Republican Randy Maggard and Democrat Kelly Smith. Nearly 11,000 voters cast a ballot by mail while another nearly 1,100 voted early.

The district has nearly 119,000 registered voters.

Most of the ballots cast, 5,553, were by Republicans. Only 4,366 Democrats have cast a ballot so far in the conservative district. Another nearly 2,100 no party and third party affiliated voters cast a ballot in the race.

The Special Election between Maggard and Smith is to replace former Rep. Danny Burgess who left office to head the Florida Department of Veteran’s Affairs as a Gov. Ron DeSantis appointee.

As a Republican, Maggard is the heavy favorite in the race. Burgess, also a Republican, first won the seat in 2014 by an overwhelming 20 percent. He ran unopposed two years later and then, last year, won in a landslide of more than 32 points.

Maggard is a Pasco native who works as the vice president of Sonny’s Discount Appliances, a position he has held for more than 30 years. He has served as the chair of the Pasco County Republican Party and the Zephyrhills Economic Development Board. He’s also a member of the Southwest Florida Water Management District Governing Board.

Smith is the Vice Chair of the Pasco County Democratic Executive Committee. The Wesley Chapel Democrat is an alumna of Southern Connecticut State University. She has lived in the Sunshine State since 1996, and in Pasco County since 2008. Outside of politics, her career includes public and private sector positions focusing on land use and transportation.

Polls open Tuesday at 7 a.m. and close at 7 p.m. As with all elections, any voter in line at the polls by 7 p.m. will be allowed to vote. A list of polling places is available on the Pasco County Supervisor of Elections’ website.

Janelle Irwin Taylor has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. Most recently, Janelle reported for the Tampa Bay Business Journal. She formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for Patch.com and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a die-hard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics, including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and contentious issues surrounding transit. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also a devoted wife and mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder.

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