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Morroni has easy win over neophyte

By Will Van Sant
Published November 8, 2006


District 6 Pinellas County Commission incumbent John Morroni cruised to victory Tuesday night over a poorly funded challenger who waged only a modest campaign.

With almost all precincts tallied, Morroni, a moderate Republican with a nice guy reputation, took more than 59 percent of the vote, easily besting Democrat Len Dramesi, a retiree whose key issue was protecting mobile home parks from developers.

"I appreciate the people's strong support," Morroni said. "I'm going to continue to work really hard on affordable housing and environmental issues."

Dramesi, 72, was persuaded to get in the race by Ed Helm, chair of the Pinellas Democratic Party. Dramesi had responded to a help-wanted ad paid for by a political action committee run by Helm's wife. The ad sought Democrats to challenge Republican commission members.

Dramesi put down $5,268 of his own money in July to qualify, then stumbled as a fundraiser. He could muster only about $3,000 from donors. Dramesi's campaign amounted to knocking on doors in mobile home parks.

By contrast, Morroni, 51, enjoys a committed donor base and took in more than $120,000. Despite facing only a dark horse threat, Morroni campaigned hard and spent over $75,000.

The money paid for billboards, mailers and a radio spot.

District 6 includes a large swath of central Pinellas and the beach towns of south Pinellas. Only voters in the district could cast ballots.

In District 2, which includes all of Pinellas County, incumbent Democratic County Commissioner Calvin Harris beat write-in challenger Brian E. Roche easily, taking 98 percent of the vote.

Roche is the brother of Harris' primary opponent, Norm Roche.

[Last modified November 8, 2006, 06:31:25]

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