Tea Party leader Mike Hill wins GOP primary in HD 2 special election

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Little more than a week after the end of the legislative session, Republicans in Escambia and Santa Rosa counties headed to the polls Tuesday to choose a nominee to replace the late Rep. Clay Ford who died in March.

With the votes counted, that nominee is Mike Hill, founder of the Northwest Florida Tea Party.

Hill finished with 42% of the vote, well ahead of former Gulf Breeze mayor Ed Gray, who finished with 33.6%. The field was rounded out by Mark Taylor, Jack Nobles, Scott Miller and David Radcliffe.

Tonight the voters of Northwest Florida sent a resounding message that they are tired of the business as usual politicians and ready to turn the page and begin a new era of conservative leadership in our state,” said Hill. “I’m humbled by the trust placed in me by the voters of district 2 and look forward to a spirited general election contest.”

Hill will be a sizable favorite against Democrat Jeremy Lau. Gov. Rick Scott carried the district by 16 points in 2010 against his Democratic opponent, former Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink; Scott narrowly won statewide. Republicans also had an eight-point edge in voter registration, according to state numbers.

Speaker Designate Steve Crisafulli congratulated Hill on winning the Republican nomination.

“I congratulate Mike Hill for his victory in tonight’s special primary election. Mike is a true conservative, committed to the strengthening Florida’s economy by shrinking government and keeping taxes low, and I know he will ably honor the legacy of Representative Clay Ford.  I offer him my full support for the upcoming general election. I am confident Mike Hill will be elected to the Florida House of Representatives, and I look forward to serving alongside him,” said Crisafulli.

Hill began the race trailing Gray, but ran a smart, sharp campaign advised by consultants Tim Baker and Brian Hughes.

Turnout in the special election was low across both counties, according to local election officials. 

“It’s disappointing, of course, but it’s not shocking,” said Escambia Supervisor of Elections David Stafford.

Material from the News Service of Florida was used in this post.

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.