Sasso, Campbell win nods in race for Bob Allen’s legislative seat

Jan 30, 2008

January 30, 2008

Sasso, Campbell win nods in race for Bob Allen’s legislative seat

Candidates will face unaffiliated opponent Feb. 26 in election for state rep


In the race to replace state Rep. Bob Allen, Democrat Tony Sasso and Republican Sean Campbell won primaries Tuesday to advance to a special general election less than a month away.

They’ll join a third candidate with no party affiliation, pharmacist Jerry Vadis Maynard of Titusville, in the Feb. 26 contest.

The winner will represent nearly 100,000 registered voters, spanning from Brevard’s northern beaches and Merritt Island into eastern Orange County, through the end of Allen’s term Nov. 4.

Allen, who faced term limits this year, resigned in November after a jury found him guilty of soliciting sex from an undercover male Titusville police officer in a park bathroom.

The primary winners survived an intense seven-week campaign that didn’t officially start until six candidates — two Democrats and four Republicans — qualified on Dec. 7.

In the Democratic primary, Sasso, a former Cocoa Beach commissioner, easily defeated political newcomer Anthony LaCourt of Merritt Island.

LaCourt, 50, wished Sasso well in the next round.

Sasso, 55, who served Cocoa Beach for six years, said voters responded well to his positive message of working together to tackle problems facing the district and Florida, rather than focusing on partisan fighting.

Those problems include saving and expanding space industry jobs, passing comprehensive tax reform and cracking down on the insurance industry, he said.

Constituents want to “see people willing to do the hard work, willing to listen, willing to fight, not fight with each other, but for them,” Sasso said.

He said his campaign, which spent $8,689 in the primary while raising $23,700, will now move ahead full steam.

“We’re ready to hit it again in the morning,” Sasso said.

Among Republicans, Campbell, a 52-year-old Merritt Island businessman, won with 38 percent of the vote with most Brevard and Orange precincts reporting.

He defeated Lance Armstrong, a Cocoa Beach chiropractor, Apryl Marie Fogel, a Titusville mental health advocate, and Dawn Hooley, a Merritt Island health insurance agent.

Campbell owns Southeast Staffing Inc., which provides labor primarily to the commercial construction industry.

He supported Amendment 1 as a start to broader property tax reform, part of a pro-growth agenda he says is needed to jumpstart the state’s flagging economy and housing market.

Like his opponents, he also named insurance reform and protection of space-related jobs as priorities. He opposes more state funding to conserve environmental land.

The first to enter the race in February, Campbell spent more than $80,000 through Jan. 24, more than double Armstrong, his next closest opponent.

“We focused on the voters,” Campbell said. “We had a lot of voter contact. It wasn’t just all money.”

At least two opponents, Fogel and Hooley, lamented that the campaign grew increasingly negative in recent weeks but wished Campbell well. Armstrong could not be reached late Tuesday.

Campbell and at least two outside interest groups that he said he had no connection with targeted Armstrong with mailings. They accused him of fundraising dominated by chiropractic groups.

Others painted Campbell and Fogel, who have worked as registered lobbyists, as Tallahassee insiders supported by different special interests.

Campbell said he had run a clean campaign, and expected to win the general election next month. The district has more Republican voters, and lower turnout is expected.

“It will be a hard fight,” he said. “Tony Sasso is a good candidate.” 
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