Most Southwest Florida House incumbents won re-election without opposition. The bulk of those who did appear on the ballot made easy work of Democratic opposition.
Reps. Mike Beltran, Adam Botana, Tommy Gregory and Jenna Persons-Mulicka all cruised through Tuesday results.
Beltran officially joins the Southwest Florida scene after winning a third term, now representing House District 70. The Hillsborough County Republican notably moved to the new district, which spans parts of south Hillsborough and north Manatee County, after redistricting put him in a swing district along with Democratic Rep. Andrew Learned.
Rather than do battle there, Beltran announced a move to HD 70, where his entry cleared the field of Republican contenders. But the entry wasn’t the reason for Democrat Eleuterio “Junior” Salazar, an LGBTQ rights activist, to leave the race. Still, in a district Republican Donald Trump won with 54.29% in the 2020 Presidential Election, Beltran won handily.
The first reports of mail-in and early votes showed Beltran up with about 63% as compared to Salazar’s 37%.
Gregory, a Lakewood Ranch Republican, also moved to run in the new House District 72, which covers much of east Manatee County. He defeated Haitian American activist Roberts Guy Dameus, the only Democrat in the race. The district also leaned heavily to the right, with Trump winning 58.93% in 2020.
With only early and mail-in votes counted, Gregory was winning 67% as compared to Dameus’ 33%.
Persons-Mulicka, a Fort Myers Republican, faces a challenge from Democrat Howard Sapp in a slightly more competitive district. Trump won House District 78 but with just 52.84%. But Sapp never raised the resources needed to unseat a Republican incumbent.
The Republican led with 63% with early and mail-in votes counted, while Sapp sat at 37%
And Botana coasted to a second term in coastal House District 80. He faced a token challenge from Democrat Mitchel Schlayer in a district Trump carried with 62.42% in 2020. The makeup of the region brought little drama to the district, but Botana still stayed busy helping constituents recover from Hurricane Ian.
The bulk of votes in HD 80 come from Lee County, where with early and mail votes in, Botana led with almost 71% of the vote as compared to Schlayer’s 29%.