Pandemic doesn’t stop Pinellas County’s voters

Pinellas County had more than 30% voter turnout for the Aug. 18 elections.

Pinellas County’s voters made their choices in primary races, nonpartisan elections and one municipal election on Aug. 18. The polls closed at 7 p.m.

As of 7:30 p.m., the “turnout quick view” at votepinellas.com showed 31.03% of 687,592 registered voters had participated. The majority cast a mail ballot, 213,342, with 3,589 taking part in early voting and 31,180 going to a polling place.

Democrats turned in the most ballots 94,409 ballots to 86,709 Republicans, 30,591 registered as no-party affiliation and 1,633 as other.

The Aug. 18 election included Republican and Democratic primaries, as well as nonpartisan races for school board and judges, as well as a special election in Pinellas Park.

Florida is a closed primary state, so voters could only cast a ballot in races of the political party to which they are registered. All voters were allowed to vote in nonpartisan elections.

The following are the non-official results posted on the supervisor of elections website, which include partial mail ballots and early voting. They do not include provisional ballots.

Republican primary

Five names were on the Republican ballot for District 13 Representative in Congress: Anna Paulina Luna, Amanda Makki, George Buck, Sheila Griffin and Sharon Barry Newby.

With 100% of precincts reporting, Luna had the most votes, almost 36%, to Makki with close to 29%, Buck with nearly 26%, Griffin with almost 7% and Newby with 3%. Luna will take on the incumbent Democrat Charlie Crist in the Nov. 3 election.

Republicans also chose between two to represent them in race for county tax collector, including the incumbent Charles W. Thomas and a former employee Joyell Hope Bobala. Thomas took the early lead and with 100% of precincts reporting had garnered 73% of the vote to Bobala with 27%. He will take on the Democratic candidate, Joseph Saportas, in November.

Democratic primary

Democrats chose between Dawn Douglas and Michael R. “Mike” Henkel in the race for State Representative District 67. With 100% of precincts reporting, Douglas had 62% of the vote to Henkel with 38%. Douglas will compete against the incumbent Republican Christopher Latvala in November.

Democrats also had a choice between James McLynas and Eliseo Santana to run against incumbent Republican Bob Gualtieri for Pinellas County Sheriff in November. With 100% of precincts reporting, Santana had the most votes with nearly 60% to 40% for McLynas.

Democrats that live in District 7 chose between Rene Flowers, Wengay “Newt” Newton and Frank Peterman as their candidate to replace long-time Commissioner Ken Welch, who did not run for re-election. Flowers led the race throughout the night. With 100% of precincts reporting, she had nearly 52% of the vote to Newton with almost 33% and Peterman with 15.53%. Flowers will compete against no-party affiliate candidate Maria L. Scruggs and write-in candidate Anthony Hart in November.

Universal primary

Voters, regardless of political affiliation, that live in District 70 got to decide on the race for State Representative District 70, which is a Universal Primary contest since all candidates are from the same political party.

Four Democrats competed for a chance to replace Newton, who ran for county commissioner. The candidates include Michele K. Rayner, Keisha Bell, Mark Oliver and Michelle Grimsley.

With 100% of precincts reporting, Rayner was on top with 35% of the vote to Bell with nearly 31%, Oliver with 19% and Grimsley with 15%.

Circuit judge races

All registered voters voted in two nonpartisan circuit court judge races. With 98% of precincts reporting, Evan Frayman had nearly 55% of the vote to 45% for Eva Vergos to win the job as Group 28 judge. Elizabeth “Liz” Jack and Ashley Ward-Singleton ran for Group 44. Jack received 53% of the vote to Ward-Singleton with 47%.

School board races

Three nonpartisan school board elections were held Aug. 18.

Laura Hine, Stephanie G. Meyer and Tom Topping were in a three-way race for Joanne Lentino’s at-large District 1 seat. Lentino did not run for re-election. Hine received the most votes, 44%, to Meyer with nearly 32% and Topping with 24%.

Incumbent Eileen M. Long was challenged by Chris Hardman for her District 4 single member seat. Long received nearly 68% of the vote to Hardman with 32% and will keep her seat.

Four candidates competed to replace school board member Rene Flowers, who has represented single member District 7 since 2012. Flowers ran for a spot on the county commission. Karl Nurse had 34% of the vote to Caprice Johnson Edmond with 25%, Sharon D. Jackson with 22% and Corey Givens Jr. with nearly 19%.

In nonpartisan races, if no candidate wins the majority of the vote in the race, 50% plus one vote, the two candidates with the most votes will be in a runoff in the Nov. 3 general election. A run-off will be held for the District 1 between Hine and Meyer, and Nurse and Edmond will compete for the District 7 seat.

Pinellas Park Council

Four ran in a special election to fill the unexpired term of Pinellas Park Councilwoman Patricia "Patti" Johnson, who died Feb. 26 at the age of 74 after battling cancer. Competing for the Seat 2 position were Connie Bruce, Patti Gail Kincer, Neil E. Kummerer Jr. and Dennis J. Shelley.

Kincer garnered 35% of the vote, to Bruce with nearly 33%. Shelley had close to 17% and Neil E. Kummerer Jr. brought in 15%.

The Canvassing Board will meet to canvass mail ballots and Election Day processing, as well as provisional ballots and release unofficial results at a future date.

Suzette Porter is TBN’s Pinellas County editor. She can be reached at sporter@tbnweekly.com.