Port St. Joe’s Jason Shoaf dominated his home county en route to a relatively easy victory in Tuesday’s Republican primary in the Florida House District 7 special election.
Shoaf will face Democrat Ryan Terrell in the June general election in the campaign to replace former Rep. Halsey Beshears, who was appointed by the governor to head the Department of Business and Professional Regulation.
Overall, among the four Republican candidates, the unofficial results show Shoaf received 48 percent of the vote, while Mike Watkins received 27 percent, Lynda Bell 19 percent and Virginia Fuller 4 percent.
Shoaf won eight of the district’s 10 counties, including Wakulla (51 percent) which was considered Watkins home base.
Bell won Liberty and Leon counties.
“This district has proven that they want a conservative candidate, they want a family candidate,” Shoaf said. “They want a candidate who will fight for the Second Amendment and defend life.
“And they want someone who will help us recover from Hurricane Michael so we can rebuild stronger and better than ever.”
Shoaf made vocational training a key part of his platform, an issue he has been leading on the board of Triumph Gulf Coast.
Should he win the special election June 18, Shoaf would have to give up his Triumph seat.
In Gulf County, Shoaf received 72 percent of the vote, receiving 1,044 of the 1,453 votes cast; there are 5,126 registered Republicans in the county.
Shoaf and Watkins were the clear front-runners throughout the campaign, both well out-spending the other two candidates in what was at times a highly-contentious race, with candidates questioning the others conservative bona fides.
One of the keys, Shoaf said, was getting out the vote and he thanked his volunteers and supporters for the “team effort.”
Shoaf also enjoyed the backing of several heavy-hitters in Republican politics, including a former Florida House Speaker and Florida Senate President.
“I look forward to bringing the people of North Florida together and bringing our North Florida values to the Florida House,” Shoaf said.