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'Positive campaign' finds McKeel in front

He broadly led James "Jim" Davis

Published November 8, 2006


Republican Seth McKeel enjoyed a wide margin over Democrat James "Jim" Davis in early results Tuesday night for the state house seat vacated by Rep. Dennis Ross.

"We're feeling great right now," said McKeel from his victory party at Lakeland's Cleveland Heights Golf Club.

Ross had promised McKeel he would not seek re-election to the House, because Ross initially planned to run for chief financial officer. When he changed his mind and McKeel said he still intended to run, Ross, bound by his promise, backed down. In a lucky twist, though, he ran unopposed for the District 64 state house seat when its previous occupant, John Stargel, stepped down to run for a Circuit Court judgeship.

McKeel, 31, raised $278,376 in cash donations; Davis, 58, raised $4,180. McKeel had a TV commercial and a mass-mailing campaign; Davis had signs and door-to-door canvassing.

Neither campaign used attack ads. McKeel said his strategy was "to present his ideas for the future and highlight his past experience."

"It was a very positive campaign," he said.

The candidates met in three debates, which shared a frequent theme of property taxes, education, and property insurance.

McKeel, a Lakeland real-estate broker, served five years on the Lakeland City Council and helped found three charter schools in Lakeland, while Davis is a newcomer to politics.

Michael A. Mohammed can be reached at or 813 226-3404.

[Last modified November 8, 2006, 01:51:45]

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