Republicans kept two Florida House seats in special elections held on Tuesday.
When Gov. Ron DeSantis picked then state Rep. Halsey Beshears to serve as secretary of the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation, a seat representing parts of the Big Bend and North Florida was left vacant.
Republican Jason Shoaf, a vice president in the St. Joe Natural Gas Company, won the special election on Tuesday, taking 71 percent while Democrat Ryan Terrell pulled 29 percent. The seat represents all of Calhoun, Franklin, Gulf, Jefferson, Lafayette, Liberty, Madison, Taylor and Wakulla Counties and parts of Leon County.
DeSantis also picked then state Rep. Danny Burgess to be executive director of the Florida Department of Veterans’ Affairs, leaving his seat representing parts of Pasco County vacant. Republican businessman Randy Maggard took 56 percent to keep the seat for the GOP while Democrat Kelly Smith pulled 44 percent.
With the GOP now controlling 73 of the 120 state House seats, state Rep. Chris Sprowls, R-Palm Harbor, who leads the Florida House Republican Conference’s campaign arm efforts, weighed in.
“On behalf of Speaker Jose Oliva and all our Republican colleagues, we are thrilled to welcome soon-to-be Representative Shoaf and Representative Maggard to the Florida House of Representatives,” Sprowls said. “They ran on conservative, common-sense ideas that clearly resonated with the voters, and I know they will both be strong advocates for their communities. Of course, elections are about much more than the name on the ballot, so I also want to recognize and thank all the family members, friends, volunteers, and local Republican Party members who made these victories possible.”
The two new state representatives will begin their duties immediately and take part in committee meeting later this year and will take part in the regular session in January.
Reach Kevin Derby at email@example.com.