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Recount over: St. Petersburg’s Darryl Rouson is the victor in Senate District 19 battle

By Caitlin Johnston
Times Staff Writer
Published: September 2, 2016
State Rep. Darryl Rouson prevailed in Tuesday's Democratic primary in state Senate District 19 by a narrow margin. His 73-vote win was confirmed on Friday after four days and two recounts, though state officials will not certify the outcome until next week. Rouson watched the election results come in Tuesday at Green Bench Brewing Co. in St. Petersburg. [DIRK SHADD | Times]

It took four days and two recounts to confirm that state Rep. Darryl Rouson narrowly edged out fellow Rep. Ed Narain in the race to replace longtime Sen. Arthenia Joyner in the Democratic primary in state Senate District 19.

Florida election officials won’t certify the results until Thursday, but machine and manual recounts in Hillsborough and Pinellas counties on Friday confirmed that St. Petersburg’s Rouson garnered 73 more votes than Tampa’s Narain in the state’s most closely contested primary contest.

“I’m glad to see some finality,” Rouson said. “I’m anxious to represent the people of this district who came out and voted and expressed themselves. I’m grateful to all of the constituents.”

The newly drawn district encompasses parts of Hillsborough and Pinellas counties. Former state Rep. Betty Reed of Tampa and lawyer Augie Ribeiro of St. Petersburg also ran for the seat, but each won less than a quarter of the vote.

Teams in both counties spent more than six hours Friday going through two separate recounts to verify the vote tally.

Rouson and Narain’s vote totals did not change after the machine recount. Narain gained two votes in Pinellas following the manual recount.

Pinellas certified its results and sent them to the state Friday. Hillsborough will do the same early next week.

“The number of votes remained the same,” said Gerri Kramer, spokeswoman for Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections. “We will certify our results on Tuesday, but nothing will change.”

When Rouson’s win in Tuesday’s primary is officially certified next week, it will likely hand him the senate seat. That’s because the Democratic winner in District 19 faces a political unknown in Republican John Houman in November’s general election.

Houman has yet to receive any political contributions since filing to run in May.