John Legg, a 29-year-old Pasco schoolteacher, is headed to Tallahassee today after winning the District 46 state House seat on Tuesday.
"We're going to get to work first thing," said Legg, who beat out Democrat Dee Thomas in a particularly heated bid for the open seat.
The race between Legg, founder of Pasco's first charter school, and Thomas, a physical therapist, spurred accusations of smear campaigning, attack ads and threats of a lawsuit in its final days.
District 46 covers much of west Pasco County and stretches from New Port Richey north to the Hernando County line. As one of Florida's few open state House seats, it was a crucial prize for both Democrats and Republicans who estimate they threw a combined $500,000 into the campaign.
At stake for Republicans was their two-thirds majority in the House of Representatives.
For Democrats the open seat meant a chance to regain some turf and shift the balance of power in Tallahassee.
Thomas, 58, said she ran a clean and positive campaign, and said that despite her loss she learned a lot during the campaign.
Next on her agenda is a return to work and perhaps some volunteering at various Pasco nonprofits.
Legg is on his way to Tallahassee for a new legislators' crash course, he said.
He attributed his success to a platform that included in-home care for seniors and lower health care costs, noting "voters in District 46 want someone who's going to fight for them."