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Old Northeast, downtown voters favored Lisa Wheeler-Brown

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

Lisa Wheeler-Brown, winner of Tuesday night’s City Council contest, rocked Historic Old Northeast in the election. According to data from the Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections, the precincts where Wheeler-Brown earned the most votes over her opponent, Will Newton, were in that general vicinity.

She also crushed the vote in downtown.

The Old Northeast Precinct No. 135, which butts up against Coffee Pot Bayou, cast more than 250 more votes for Wheeler-Brown than Newton. In the downtown Precinct No. 123, which includes USF St. Pete, Wheeler-Brown earned 246 more votes than Newton.

And in Precinct 130, which includes downtown residents North of the Pier, Wheeler-Brown out-performed Newton by nearly 200.

Wheeler-Brown also dominated high-income neighborhoods along the Pinellas Bayway. That area includes top-dollar condos and several senior living facilities.

The race was much closer in the candidates’ own neighborhoods

Newton failed to earn his own Childs Park area. In Precinct 224 Wheeler-Brown tallied in with 82 votes. Newton earned 78.

Wheeler-Brown held onto her Midtown community, but only narrowly in some areas.

The race was also close in South St. Pete with Wheeler-Brown carrying most precincts by just a small margin. She did heavily win Coquina Key by a margin of more than 40 votes and the pricey Bahama Shores Neighborhood by more than 80.

Pink Street voters on the Southside also favored Wheeler-Brown by 29 votes. The total votes cast in that precinct was just 187.

The analysis of voting trends shows Newton’s conservative endorsements may not have helped him with Lisa handily winning over affluent neighborhoods home to some of the city’s more conservative voters.

However, votes in West St. Pete were not as one-sided, showing that Newton may have gained some ground with voters in those districts.

In all, 15,176 votes were cast for Wheeler-Brown with just 11,113 tallied for Newton. Wheeler-Brown won with 58 percent of the vote – 16 points ahead of Newton.

The race had been expected to be close with most polls showing Wheeler-Brown’s lead within the margin of error. However, a poll conducted just two days before the election showed Wheeler-Brown with an 11-point lead.

Supporters speculate her late-campaign surge may have been a blessing from the Newton campaign. It was a painful gift, but Wheeler-Brown may have benefited from a negative attack by Newton supporters accusing her of profiting from her son’s murder. That move, paired with a campaign mailer that appeared to have been edited to portray Wheeler-Brown with darker skin prompted Mayor Rick Kriseman to serve up his endorsement the day before Election Day.

However, even if there was a surge at the polls, it’s also important to keep in mind that 79 percent of all ballots were cast by mail. None of the ballots were returned after Kriseman’s endorsement and only about 3,000 were cast after the foundation allegations involving Wheeler-Brown’s son.

Total voter turnout this election was less than 18 percent.

Wheeler-Brown takes office Jan. 2.

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Janelle Irwin has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. She also hosts a weekly political talk show on WMNF Community radio. Janelle formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for Patch.com and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a diehard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and the ongoing Pier debacle. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also the devoted mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder. To contact, email janelle@floridapolitics.com.

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