Senator Jeff Brandes holds onto seat in contentious race against Judithanne McLauclan

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State Senator Jeff Brandes took his opponent to the woodshed. Brandes has pulled in more than 57 percent of the vote with McLauchlan bringing in 43 percent.

The race between the incumbent Republican and the aspiring Democrat saw some of the highest levels of outside funding of any statewide contest. Brandes pulled in more than $815,000. Much of that came directly from the Republican Party of Florida. McLauchlan pulled in just $307,733.

“I am humbled by this strong support and vote of confidence from our community,” Brandes said in a victory statement.. “Together we have championed innovative public policy that will improve the State of Florida. I am excited to get back to work so that Florida will be the number one state for job creation, and the best to raise a family.”

The two campaigned against one another on largely partisan issues. Brandes painted McLauchlan as a tax and spend liberal who supports President Barack Obama’s signature healthcare law. McLauchlan criticized Brandes for failing to support Medicaid expansion and for accepting contributions from Duke Energy. The utility giant has come under fire for collecting $3.2 billion from ratepayers for two nuclear projects that were cancelled.

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.