Democrats, GOP split local races

The race for the White House came to an apparent end Tuesday. But what may have shocked people is that there were other things on the Florida ballot besides the battle for the presidency.

Seats in the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House were up for grabs, as well as the state attorney of the 2nd Judicial Court and Leon County Tax Collector seats.

These local elections were just as important as the presidential election that is making headlines, said Leon County Supervisor of Elections Ion Sancho said.

“Ninety percent of all services citizens receive are garnered by local officials,” Sancho said.

The race for the seat in the U.S. Senate was for who will replace Sen. Bob Graham, who said he would not run for his seat again after giving up his race for the White House.

This race helped decide the balance of power in the U.S. Senate for the next two years.

Republican nominee Mel Martinez defeated democrat Betty Castor for the seat.

Martinez was a member of President Bush’s Cabinet as the Secretary of Housing and Development. Castor is a former president of the University of South Florida and the first woman to serve as President Pro Tempore of the Florida State Senate. Both candidates expressed different views about whether the United States should have invaded Iraq.

“I think it was the right decision whether or not Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction,” Martinez said at a debate with Castor on Oct. 18.

In that same debate, Castor said now knowing that there are no weapons of mass destruction, she would not have voted for the war.

One thing both candidates did agree on was the immediate improvement of healthcare needs.

Castor said if elected she would fight to lower the cost of prescription drugs by using the government’s purchasing power to negotiate with drug companies for cheaper drug prices for Medicare recipients, just as the Veterans’ Affairs Department does.

Cheers erupted throughout the room while Libby Greer, campaign manager for democratic congressman Allen Boyd, read the latest updates in the race for U.S. House.

“With 100 percent of all districts reporting in Franklin County, we have 69 percent for Allen Boyd and 31 percent for Bev Kilmer,” Greer said.

Boyd defeated Kilmer with 62 percent of the vote for the U.S. House seat. “This was the hardest race we’ve had so far,” said Greer, who has worked for the congressman for the last five years.

The campaign spent $1.7 million on Boyd’s successful re-election efforts, said Greer to the room full of supporters.

Boyd first ran for office in 1996 and has had a successful eight -year run. Boyd said one of his first priorities will be to help heal some of the wounds of the nation. ” In my 16 years of public service I had never seen the country so divided.

” Whoever is elected president I will do my best to work with them,” Boyd said. “We are all Americans and we must work together to make our communities better.”

The race for the Second Judicial Circuit State Attorney was between incumbent William N. Meggs who is running for his sixth consecutive term and the Deputy Chief Judge of the Division of Administrative Hearings Harry Hooper. Meggs won the position, garnering 67 percent of the vote.

“Statewide per capita in Leon County is tops in the state in incarcerating the worst of the worst, Gaines is second, Jefferson is third,” Meggs said. “We’re just gonna keep doing what we’re doing. We’re on the right track.”

Doris Maloy, who has been tax collector since 2000, defeated retired firefighter Don Pumphrey.

“My opponent is a retired fireman with no proven track record. He has a diploma, he doesn’t have a strong educational background,” Maloy said.

The major item of debate between the two was the budget. Pumphrey said that under Doris Maloy, the budget has gone up $2.4 million in three years.

“It takes money to bring the office up to modern standards. The money is being spent on new technologies and staff development,” Maloy said.

“I think her background is excellent. This woman is very qualified, she has served four years as tax collector with no major controversies at all,” Sancho said. Pumphrey’s “lack of experience with financial planning may have caused him some votes in the end”

Contact Jason Kephart at