Colleen Burton victorious in bitter HD 40 GOP primary

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A hostile battle for the Republican primary House District 40 — marked by waves of negative ads from outside groups supporting each side — has ended, as Colleen Burton has defeated John Shannon by a margin of 51 to 49 percent.

In the final days of the primary for the slightly GOP district, where numbers of registered Democrats and Republicans run about even, both Shannon and Burton were targets of attack ads paid for by outside groups.

Ads painted Shannon as an “outrageous multi-millionaire trial lawyer” with more than “20 years of tax troubles.”

Ultimately, Burton was successful in fighting the “liberal” label pinned on her in an ad by pro-Shannon PAC Families for Lower Taxes that blasted her work on Polk Vision. The ad claimed Burton was behind the “largest tax increase” in Polk County history — a raise property tax increase of 23 percent and a boost in utility taxes of “up to 500 percent.”

Burton now faces Democrat Ricky Shirah and American Independent Party candidate Franklin Shoemaker in November’s general election.

Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding HRNewsDaily.com. His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for Patch.com, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at phil@floridapolitics.com and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.