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West Pasco's incumbent state representatives take solid leads as returns roll in.
By ALISA ULFERTS
© St. Petersburg Times, published November 8, 2000
With half of Pasco County's precincts reporting, voters appeared ready to return both of west Pasco's Republican state representatives to the capitol Tuesday.
Mike Fasano solidly beat back an effort by Democrat Doris Rosen, who had mounted a write-in campaign against him in District 45. Heather Fiorentino had nearly twice as many votes as her Democrat opponent, Carlene Hobbs, in District 46.
Fiorentino did much better Tuesday than she did in 1998 when she was elected to her first term in the House with just 23 votes to spare.
Even with just half of the precincts counted, Fiorentino said she was confident her lead would continue through the evening.
"We earned their votes this time," Fiorentino said.
She said she credited her victory to her achievements in the Florida House, specifically bills that increased funding for education and set up a pilot program for helping the poor buy medication. And Fiorentino has been keeping a close eye on education, an issue she says many of her elderly constituents support.
"We certainly have worked very hard," she said.
Hobbs could not be reached for comment Tuesday evening. An artist and real estate saleswoman, Hobbs was a late entry into the race for the Democrats, recruited by the state party to run against Fiorentino.
Fasano's re-election practically guarantees his ascension next year to the second most powerful position in the House of Representatives: the Majority Leader.
Last week, Fasano named gains made in protecting patients in the health care industry as the reason voters should return him to Tallahassee. Bills he sponsored or supported included the same prescription drug plan Fiorentino supported and a provision allowing patients to be treated by their doctor, not one picked by an HMO, if the patient must stay in the hospital.