The showdown everyone expected and many have bemoaned is official. Republican Gov. Rick Scott and Democrat Charlie Crist, a former Republican governor, easily won their primaries.
There was little doubt they would, though both parties tried to create unrealistic margin of victory expectations for their opponent.
Crist faced a credible opponent in former lawmaker Nan Rich, but his strong showing, including taking the vote in her home of Broward County, should erase any thoughts that the Democratic base would prefer party purity over winnability.
Scott and Crist have been attacking one another for months, and things no doubt will get uglier. Florida has a history of usually nominating quality gubernatorial candidates, but we can’t remember a race where so many people have expressed frustration with their choices.
They may be flawed candidates — Scott is stiff and remote; Crist is ever ready to change positions. Yet they both have their share of accomplishments. Whatever their shortcomings, neither is as bad as you are going to hear in campaign ads in the coming months.
In Hillsborough, voters mostly went with familiar names with proven records. Commissioner Al Higginbotham, who has represented East Hillsborough, easily won the Republican nomination for the countywide District 7 seat. In the Nov. 4 general election, he will face Democrat Pat Kemp, a long-time community activist who also won impressively.
School Board member Stacy White narrowly won the Republican race for East Hillsborough’s District 4 County Commission seat and will face only a write-in candidate in November.
In Pinellas, voters chose two Republican candidates for the County Commission who support the Greenlight transit initiative and rejected incumbent Commissioner Norm Roche, who voted to keep fluoride from the water supply. Roche was defeated by former state legislator Ed Hooper, who will now face Largo Mayor Pat Gerard in the November general election. The two Greenlight supporters, former Dunedin Mayor Dave Eggers and incumbent Commissioner John Morroni, won comfortably. Eggers will face Democrat Mark Weinkrantz in November. Morroni won a fourth term Tuesday because no candidates from opposing parties qualified for the general election.
In Pasco, there were no surprises. Commissioner Henry Wilson was unseated by fellow Republican Mike Wells, whose father, of the same name, is the property appraiser and a former county commissioner.