One legislative primary undecided

Published September 7, 2006

TALLAHASSEE - As most winners of legislative primaries began campaigning for the general election Wednesday, at least one state House race remained unsettled with the possibility of a recount or a change in the winner based on uncounted provisional ballots.

Two other House seats were also close, with provisional ballots still to be counted.

Former prosecutor Nick Thompson, making his first run for political office, was 34 votes ahead of former Lee County Commissioner John Albion when the ballots were counted in the Republican primary for House District 73 Tuesday night.

The difference - 0.38 percent - was small enough that it likely will trigger an automatic recount. After that, the final tally could be changed by provisional ballots.

If the difference in an election is less than 0.5 percent, an automatic recount occurs. But then there are also provisional ballots to count.

Voters who don't show up at the right precincts, or are prevented from voting for some reason, can cast provisional ballots. As their registration is verified and those votes counted, they are added to the total.

Lee County election officials didn't know Wednesday how many provisional ballots were cast and whether they might be enough to change the outcome.

Whoever wins the District 73 primary will face Democrat Pete Burkert in the November general election to replace Rep. Bruce Kyle, R-Fort Myers, who is retiring due to term limits.

In Broward County, Kelly Skidmore was clinging to a narrow lead in preliminary results in a four-way Democratic primary to fill the seat being vacated by Rep. Irv Slosberg. When the ballots were counted, Skidmore was 169 votes ahead of her closest rival, Len Turesky, in a race where more than 12,700 ballots were cast.

The Democratic primary in House District 105 in Broward County also was close, but Hallandale Beach Commissioner Joe Gibbons edged Henry Rose. Gibbons will take the seat because no Republican is on the ballot. The seat was left open by the departure of Rep. Ken Gottlieb due to term limits.

Also decided Wednesday was another Broward Democratic primary in which Elaine Schwartz defeated two other candidates in the race to succeed term-limited Rep. Eleanor Sobel, D-Hollywood. She will face Republican Juan Selaya in November.

In a tight Republican primary in Miami-Dade County, former Senate Majority Leader Alex Villalobos, fighting to keep his District 38 seat, edged School Board member Frank Bolanos. Bolanos had the backing of Gov. Jeb Bush, who was angered when Villalobos voted against a proposed constitutional amendment to restore a school voucher program. Villalobos faces a little-known independent, Leighton W. Lang, in November.