Seminole County Commissioners Lee Constantine and Bob Dallari easily won primary battles that had pitted them against Longwood leaders who had appeared to be rising stars in county politics.
With 97% of the votes counted Tuesday, Constantine defeated Longwood City Commissioner Ben Paris in the county’s District 3 by a 66-34 spread, and Dallari defeated Longwood Mayor Matt Morgan 60-40 in District 1 in Tuesday’s primaries.
In District 5 political newcomer Pernell Bush trounced former state Rep. Mike Clelland in the Democratic primary, by a spread of more 70-30.
Dallari now will face Democrat Katrina Shadix in the District 1 election in November. Constantine will face Democrat Kim Buchheit. Bush will face Republican Andria Herr and Libertarian Andre Klass.
The District 1 and District 3 Republican primary contests had been in part spun as a referendum on a controversial development called River Cross that both Constantine and Dallari had helped vote down, twice, drawing the ire and warnings from the developer, former state Rep. Chris Dorworth.
Heading into Tuesday’s Republican primary election, the pair have weathered blistering television and digital attack ads this month. The ads raise old, disputed sexual harassment allegations against each of them, as well as votes on taxes. The attacks have been paid for with $170,000 of difficult-to-track money laundered through a political action committee called Sunshine State Rising.
Constantine and Dallari sought to tie the PAC to River Cross, and therefore to Morgan and Paris.
Morgan and Paris, had sought to distance themselves from the attacks, and to make their campaigns about leadership. They’ve insisted they’re running as themselves, not as anyone’s pawns. But Constantine’s and Dallari’s counter charges might have helped convince voters that the Longwood pair were on the wrong side of an unpopular developer.