Undersheriff Rick Ramsay ran away with the Republican nomination for Monroe County sheriff in Tuesday's primary, a landslide victory for the man who has long been a public face of the agency.
Meanwhile, recently retired 24-year Sheriff's Office veteran Tom Peteck easily took the Democratic nomination.
"All along I thought it would come down to me and Tom Peteck, but we still worked hard," Ramsay said Tuesday night en route to his victory bash at Boondocks Grille and Drafthouse on Ramrod Key. "I spent the whole day with my people in the hot sun today and tonight we're going to have a little breather."
Ramsay crushed his Republican opponents with 72 percent of the vote. Opponent Jake Brady took 17 percent, and Bill Grove got 11 percent.
Peteck captured 62 percent of the vote and his opponent, Matt Koval, took home just 38 percent of the vote.
The sheriff's race became feisty, as Democratic and Republican candidates took swipes at Ramsay, who was considered by many to be heir apparent to retiring Sheriff Bob Peryam. Peryam endorsed Ramsay as his successor.
"During the primary it was gang-up-on-Rick-day," Ramsay said. "It was beat-up-on-Rick and the Sheriff's Office as a whole, but now that we're down to mano a mano we're going to have a much more realistic discussion over who has the most experience to lead this multimillion dollar agency."
Air Force veteran and longtime deputy Peteck said he was humbled by the primary victory, and that there's still a lot of work to be done convincing voters that change is needed at the Sheriff's Office.
"There were some pretty hard-core people in my opponent's camp that I was able to win over while out there talking on the campaign," Peteck said.
Peteck said he remains committed to community policing, a law enforcement philosophy that includes and recruits residents, businesses, churches and other community groups in crime solving and crime prevention.
"I told them where we are and where we're not, and community policing is the biggest part of that," Peteck said.
His Democratic rival, Koval, who has patrolled the Keys since 1987, said he will now support Peteck in the Nov. 6 general election.
On the Republican side, Bill Grove was disappointed, but he said he would consider running again. Grove captured just 11 percent of the vote.
"It's tough going up against Rick," Grove said. "He has the backing of the Sheriff's Office and he got an overwhelming majority of voters. It was a tough road."
Fellow Republican Jake Brady, who took 17 percent of the vote, did not return phone calls for comment Tuesday night.
The night clearly belonged to Ramsay, who now heads into the general election with thunderous approval from Republicans as he hopes to win over Democrats and independents.
"It's time to get serious and get down to the nuts and bolts and who is best candidate, who is best for the agency and the general public," Ramsay said.