Tampa Bay Times
With all precincts reporting, Republican Jeff Brandes (R-St. Petersburg) defeated Democrat challenger Lindsay Cross 54 percent to 46 percent. Democrats failed to snag a key state Senate seat, with voters sending Brandes back to Tallahassee.
“For the next four years, you can expect nothing less than for us to lead the country in bold ideas,” Brandes told the Tampa Bay Times after his win.
Jay Ferrin, Brandes’ campaign manager, said significant outreach and canvassing was what clinched the victory.
“We knew that we needed to get out there and talk to voters about what was important to them and make sure we heard them,” Ferrin said. “I believe we did.”
Brandes, 42, was first elected to the state Senate in 2012. He serves on seven committees, including appropriations.
Brandes plans to continue to support conservative economic and education policies and will push for driver-less car infrastructure, protection of gun rights and criminal justice reform.
“He’s looking forward to taking on challenging issues and coming up with innovative solutions,” Ferrin said.
His opponent was a first-time candidate. Before politics, Cross focused on environmental science and served as director for the Florida Wildlife Corridor.
Cross, 40, hoped to push for Medicaid expansion in Florida, vote to ban assault weapons and increase teacher salaries.
Brandes will serve Florida Senate District 24, which encompasses a significant portion of south Pinellas County, including parts of Pinellas Park, north St. Petersburg, Largo and beach towns below Clearwater Beach.
Going into the election, Democrats had 16 seats and need five for a majority. There are 40 state Senate seats, which carry four-year terms. State senators cannot serve more than two consecutive terms. The position pays $29,697 annually for part-time service in the Legislature.