Florida Keys News
Thursday, November 8, 2012
Raschein, Bullard win their state races

With the election night dust now settled, Florida Keys residents find themselves represented in the state Senate by a Democratic veteran and in the House by a Republican newcomer.

Both Sen.-elect Dwight Bullard and Rep.-elect Holly Raschein say their highest priorities in Tallahassee will involve attacking high windstorm insurance rates and methods of dealing with stormwater issues familiar to people living and working in the Keys.

Bullard, a state legislator who sought the 39thDistrict Senate seat, trounced Republican challenger Scott Hopes in Tuesday's election, drawing more than 70 percent of the vote.

Out of 142,733 votes cast, 100,370 went to Bullard while 42,363 went to Hopes.

The district includes all of Monroe County and Hendry counties as well as parts of Collier and Miami-Dade.

Prior to district lines being redrawn, Bullard's mother, Larcenia, had occupied the Senate seat and term-limited out.

Raschein, a legislative aide to Democratic Rep. Ron Saunders, who ran an unsuccessful primary race against Bullard, has never held office before. But throughout her campaign for the District 120 seat, she pointed to her work for Saunders and ability to network in Tallahassee on both sides of the aisle.

She fended off Democratic newcomer Ian Whitney, president of the Key West Innkeepers Association, garnering 52 percent of the vote.

The final numbers posted Wednesday showed Raschein with 30,636 votes compared with Whitney's 27,760, or 47 percent.

"I feel like I will just be taking everything day by day," said Raschein, a Key Largo resident. "We have some real issues like windstorm insurance and wastewater allocation to deal with. Now I will have to do all those things that come with opening an office, and start serving the people."

Bullard is already set up with office space as a state legislator but will have to make several changes to better organize his Senate functions.

"Now the real work begins," Bullard said "I really want to be an all-around representative for the entire district. I want to become a presence."

When asked what issues he wants to jump on while making the transformation from the House to the Senate, Bullard didn't hesitate -- stormwater and wind insurance.

Bullard plans to establish a satellite office in the Keys if he can get the funding from the state. But as he seeks to do that, Bullard said, he will also be working with his staff to make them familiar with Keys issues.

Hopes, his opponent, said he is returning to his private business ventures, making up for time lost in those duties due to the campaign.

"Now for all of us who will be represented by my opponent, it is up to us to get him to do what he has promised to do."

Both candidates were civil to each other both in person and when asked about the election separately.

In a phone interview Wednesday, Whitney said he was pleased by his showing against Raschein, and that he knows he did his best.

"When I first decided to run, people thought I wouldn't have a chance," Whitney said. "We came within 2,900 votes. I think we had a really good campaign."

jdesantis@keysnews.com

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