Keeping the seat in Republican hands, Dover businessman Lawrence McClure easily won a special election Tuesday in a Hillsborough County state House district.
McClure, who captured 54.5 percent of the vote, will replace former Rep. Dan Raulerson, a Plant City Republican who resigned from the District 58 seat this summer. Raulerson, who was initially elected to the seat in 2012, cited business and health reasons, including a painful back condition, in stepping down.
The eastern Hillsborough County area has long been represented by Republicans, and McClure, a partner with the firm Streamline Environmental, Inc., offered a conservative platform, including backing Second Amendment rights, opposing abortion and supporting school choice.
McClure topped three other candidates, with Democrat Jose Vazquez receiving 33.8 percent of the vote, unaffiliated candidate Ahmad Hussam Saadaldin receiving 8.5 percent and Libertarian Bryan Zemina receiving 3.2 percent, according to unofficial results posted on the state Division of Elections website with all precincts reporting.
The election came three weeks before the Jan. 9 start of the legislative session.
McClure dominated fundraising in the campaign, bringing in $217,250 as he won an Oct. 10 primary election and Tuesday's general election. He received backing from major players in the Capitol, with his latest finance report showing contributions from businesses and organizations such the HCA health-care chain, Realtors political action committees, the Florida Medical Association, the Florida Bankers Association and the Florida Police Benevolent Association.
Tuesday's election was part of an unusual series of special elections for open legislative seats. Special elections have been held or are planned in six House districts and two Senate districts.
McClure joins Miami Republican Daniel Perez and Winter Garden Republican Bobby Olszewski, who won special House elections in September and October. Also, Miami Democrat Annette Taddeo won a special Senate election in September.
A special election also is scheduled Feb. 13 in Sarasota County's House District 72, which was vacated this summer by former Rep. Alex Miller, R-Sarasota. Special general elections are scheduled later in Miami-Dade County's House District 114, which was vacated by former Rep. Daisy Baez, D-Coral Gables; House District 39, which includes parts of Polk and Osceola counties and was vacated by former Rep. Neil Combee, R-Auburndale; and Palm Beach County's Senate District 31, which was vacated by former Sen. Jeff Clemens, D-Lake Worth.