Pinellas Sheriff Bob Gualtieri defeats Democrat challenger Scott Swope

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Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri easily defeated challenger Scott Swope on Tuesday. With 292 of 299 Precincts Reporting as of 9 p.m., Gualtieiri leads 59.26 percent to 40.43 percent.

“It’s a great night and a culmination of 18 months of a lot of hard work by a lot of people.” Gualtieri told a cheering crowd of more than 500 at the Hilton Carillon on Tuesday night.

Gualtieri was appointed interim sheriff by Gov. Rick Scott in November 2011, after Jim Coats retired from the job.

He beat former Pinellas Sheriff Everitt Rice in a contentious Republican Primary Election in August.

Gualtieri singled out the heated primary race as tough, along with the last two months of campaigning against Swope.

He said the “significant” margin of victory means the people of Pinellas County approve of his leadership and where the county is going.

“The voters spoke today and they obviously like what they see,” he said. “To keep (us) on the right track.”

Swope conceded victory to Gualtieri on Tuesday night, calling him and leaving a message telling him to “do good for these next four years.”

Via William Mansell of Patch.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.