The Republican race for House District 60 was a nail-biter Tuesday night, with civil engineer Jackie Toledo getting just 246 more votes (out of 12,528 cast) than businesswoman Rebecca Smith, giving her a less than two-percentage-point victory.
Smith was the clear GOP establishment favorite in the race, but obviously, not among the electorate. Toledo raised less than half the amount of her opponent, but observers in South Tampa said in terms of a ground game, Toledo and her volunteers were much more visible in touching voters.
Now Toledo must pivot towards the general election. During the primary, Toledo went hard right, boasting about her support from the NRA and, most controversially, declaring in a mailer that among the “bad bills to repeal on Day 1” would be legislation that provides in-state tuition and law licenses for “illegal aliens.”
It was with that statement in mind that Toledo’s Democratic opponent in the seat, Tampa land use attorney David Singer, called her out of touch with the needs of the district, which includes all of South Tampa, much of south Hillsborough County and Town N’ Country.
“Donald Trump has used the most divisive rhetoric of anyone in politics in recent memory and Jackie Toledo is on board with his positions and out of touch with the needs of our district and our state,” Singer said in a statement issued late Tuesday night. “We should focus on fixing our roads, schools and business climate, not defunding Planned Parenthood.”
The 38-year-old Singer is running for office for the first time, while Toledo has a little more experience, losing a close battle against Guido Maniscalco for a seat on the Tampa City Council in early 2015.
“I am confident our campaign will be victorious on Nov. 8 because voters want a practical, pragmatic voice to clean up Tallahassee and make government more responsive to the needs of our community,” Singer said.
A request for comment from the Toledo camp was not returned.