© St. Petersburg Times, published September 11, 2002
Incumbent Leslie Waters was easily defeating two challengers Tuesday night in the Republican primary for state House District 51.
Waters, R-Seminole, held a big lead throughout the early evening. With more than 70 percent of precincts reporting, she appeared to be headed to a landslide victory over her opponents, Dan Krassner and William "Bill" Stieh.
She has held the District 51 seat since 1998. Both Krassner and Stieh were making their first run for public office.
Waters will not have much time to savor her victory. She faces Democrat Richard Langton in the Nov. 5 general election.
Waters said during the campaign that one of her major strengths was her accessibility. She has credited that for her past victories.
Waters, 55, is retired from management with Allstate insurance. While in the Legislature, she has served as vice chairwoman of the Insurance Committee.
That background, she has said, is a plus when it comes to dealing with those issues as they come up during the Legislative session.
Langton said he was not surprised at Waters' strong primary showing.
"It's real hard to unseat an incumbent in a primary," he said.
Her overwhelming primary victory did not discourage him, however. Voters in the district are discontented, he said, and may be looking for a change.
"Besides running against me, she's going to have to run against the issues," Langton said. Among those issues are frustration with the state's education system and poor economic times, he said.
Those are both issues that Waters' primary opponents hammered at with little effect. But Langton said he plans to be a stronger candidate than Krassner or Stieh.