Democrat narrowly wins Bob Allen’s Florida House seat

Feb 27, 2008

The former Cocoa Beach councilman beats Sean Campbell by about 400 votes.

Laurin Sellers
Sentinel Staff Writer
Orlando Sentinel--Feb. 27, 2008

Democrat Tony Sasso narrowly defeated Republican Sean Campbell by about 400 votes in Tuesday’s election for state House District 32, ending a fierce battle marred by attack ads and misleading accusations in the final days of campaigning.

Sasso, a former Cocoa Beach city commissioner, captured 10,330 votes to Campbell’s 9,918. No-party candidate Jerry Maynard, who was never considered a serious opponent, received 1,409 votes.

“I’m excited and ready to go roll my sleeves up and go to work,” a jubilant Sasso said just minutes after Campbell called to concede. “It was a very close race.”

Voter turnout for the special election was low, with 26 percent in Brevard and only 10.9 percent in Orange County, where Campbell captured most of the votes, said Fred Galey, Brevard supervisor of elections.

Sasso will serve the rest of former state Rep. Bob Allen’s term, about eight months. He then will have to run for re-election to hold on to the seat, which serves parts of Brevard and Orange counties.

After seven years in the Legislature, Allen reluctantly resigned late last year when a jury found him guilty of soliciting sex from an undercover police officer in a Titusville park restroom.

A judge withheld adjudication and sentenced him to six months of probation. Allen, a Merritt Island Republican who did not testify during his trial, has denied any wrongdoing and filed an appeal.

Just days before this week’s special election, a flurry of negative ads and press releases were circulated by both parties.

The Democrats accused Campbell, a Merritt Island businessman, of helping companies hire illegal immigrants and bribing voters by sending them a 41-cent stamp and encouraging them to use the free postage to mail their absentee ballots.

State GOP leaders labeled the accusations “absurd.”

A day later, Republicans sent out a press release blasting Sasso for a “deceptive” radio spot that claimed he was the only candidate endorsed by the National Rifle Association.

The ad ran twice before the Democratic candidate pulled it, saying it was a draft mistakenly sent to the radio station.

None of the three was endorsed by the NRA, although the group did give Sasso an “A” grade on a political questionnaire.

Laurin Sellers can be reached at or 321-795-3251.