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Wallace jumps to early lead over his challenger


© St. Petersburg Times, published November 8, 2000

TAMPA -- In early returns, incumbent Republican Rob Wallace jumped out to a lead over Democratic challenger Monte Belote for the state District 47 House seat.

"If that trend continues, which I'm confident it will, we'll hold on and claim victory," said Wallace, who is running for his fourth term.

During his tenure in the House, Wallace has become known for his tough stance on taxes, a position he said was adopted to bring parity to the rate of state spending with the rate of family spending. It's also a stance Wallace said he will continue if re-elected.

"It's a theme I've been stating for the last couple of years," Wallace said. "I know that's struck a chord with most people on a family budget."

During his campaign Wallace also took credit for helping to funnel $56-million to Hillsborough County schools, a windfall that helped the county add four more days to the school year.

"We've been well organized," Wallace said. "It's just a matter of getting your message to the people."

Belote said he knew going in that challenging an incumbent would be difficult.

Best known for his tenure with the Florida Consumer Action Network, or FCAN, where he served as executive director for 14 years, Belote, 41, is a longtime consumer advocate who currently consults in the area of consumer affairs with telecommunication associations.

During his leadership at FCAN, Belote worked on behalf of property owners against Florida's insurance industry on claims stemming from Hurricane Andrew. Belote focused his campaign on education, growth management and environmental concerns.

An environmental engineer, Wallace was first elected in 1994 and was re-elected in 1996 and 1998.

House District 47 covers parts of Carrollwood and Odessa in northwest Hillsborough County, stretching through north Pinellas County to include Tarpon Springs.

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