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Webb wins another term on bench

Opponent Don Peyton, a New Port Richey lawyer, credits Webb with running a well-organized campaign.


© St. Petersburg Times, published September 6, 2000


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NEW PORT RICHEY -- With an overwhelming lead in the vote, Pasco-Pinellas Circuit Judge Bill Webb appeared Tuesday night to win a second term on the bench.

Webb, 52, waited with family and supporters at the Pit Boss Bar-B-Q in Port Richey while the results trickled in. He said campaigning for re-election has been "a very humbling and difficult experience."

On the campaign trail, he said, "Occasionally I would run into a person who was upset with me because I had sentenced her son to prison for multiple armed robberies. Not everybody expressed love toward me. But on the other hand I got a lot of positive feedback from people."

The man who hoped to unseat Webb, New Port Richey lawyer Don Peyton, was waiting down the block at another restaurant, Chili's, with his own family and supporters. "It's not really good news," Peyton said, when told of Webb's commanding lead.

"It sounds like he's running very strong," he said. "I know he had a well-organized campaign, so going into something like this, when you know you're going as the underdog, you hope for the best and you prepare for the worst."

Webb won by 60 percent of the vote in 1994. In his race for re-election, Webb touted his success in handling heavy caseloads and in streamlining procedures surrounding family law and dependency cases.

Peyton, 57, best known locally for his work representing homeowners associations, served for a year as a judge in Indiana in the 1980s before he moved to Florida, in hopes the climate would soothe his allergies.

The race, like many judicial races, was largely a quiet one. In recent weeks, however, Peyton challenged Webb's record on appeal, saying higher courts had reversed his decisions to a disproportionately high degree. Webb disputed it.

"We've worked hard and done the best we can," Peyton said Tuesday night. "The hardest thing is getting the message out to the people. I think that's the thing that's toughest to overcome."

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