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Dana Young beats Bob Buesing in SD 18 race

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

In one of the nastiest state legislative races in Florida this fall, Republican Dana Young has defeated Democrat Bob Buesing, 48 percent to 41 percent. Joe Redner finished third with 9.5 percent.  Sheldon Upthegrove, a staff sergeant at U.S. Central Command at MacDill Air Force Base, finished forth with less than one percent of the vote.

“Tampa Bay voters have spoken tonight in favor of an experienced and proven voice that is dedicated to reforming our state government, and I am honored to be elected your next state senator,” said Young. “This election was won by grassroots campaigning. I cannot thank all of the volunteers and supporters enough who came out each and every day, working tirelessly to spread our positive message of reform. I also want to extend a special thank you to my husband, Matt, and both of my daughters for their encouragement from the very beginning of this journey.”

For liberals who were hoping to defeat Young in this race, there had been concern that Redner, who has ran a Democrat in previous elections and arguably had greater name recognition than Buesing, took votes away from the Democrat, ultimately aiding Young.

Young raised more than $2 million between her own campaign contributions and her political committee. She was also aided by a controversial ad produced on her behalf against Buesing by the Florida Republican Senatorial Committee.

Buesing raised more than $500,000 on his own and his PAC, Floridians for Early Education, raised another $133,000. The Florida Democratic Party also purchased ads on his behalf, and there was fierce advocacy blasting Young on the part of the group Florida Strong.

Until the last week of the campaign, Young avoided any scheduled debates with her three opponents, drawing derisive remarks from her three opponents as being in “hiding.”

Buesing and Redner hammered Young’s record relentlessly during the campaign, particularly the environment. Other third-party groups also blasted Young on her vote for fracking, which seemed to dominate the last few weeks of the campaign (Young insisted her vote on HB 191 was for a moratorium on the practice until more studies could be conducted. She maintained that she has never supported the practice, and never will.)

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Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served as five years as the political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. He also was the assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley. He's a San Francisco native who has now lived in Tampa for 15 years and can be reached at mitch.perry@floridapolitics.com.

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