Robinson, Trace Upset in Primary Elections

Todays News

Photo: School Board Member elect Tom Edwards and outgoing School Board member Eric Robinson.

Eric Robinson lost his seat on the Sarasota County School Board to Tom Edwards. The upset was perhaps the biggest news to come out of an evening of close and closely watched races in Sarasota County. 

“I am honored that you have chosen me to serve as your Sarasota County School Board member,” Edwards wrote on Facebook. “Let’s Get to Work.”

Notably, Edwards had won support from the Sarasota Democratic Party, besting Robinson, a prominent Republican campaign treasurer, with almost 52% of the vote to the incumbent’s 48%. But in the other Sarasota School Board race, it was the GOP-backed Karen Rose who prevailed over David Graham, a Democrat, for an open seat being vacated by Caroline Zucker. For the next two years, Democrats control three of the five seats on the board, the same as before the election.

In the Sarasota city races, Terry Turner and Liz Alpert will advance to a Sarasota City Commission runoff in District 2, knocking out Joe Barbetta, Martin Hyde, Jerry Wells and Don Patterson. Dan Clermont and Erik Arroyo face off anew in District 3 after eliminating Rob Grant.

In state politics, Fiona McFarland won a close GOP primary in House District 72, a Democratic-controlled open seat Republicans hope to flip in November. McFarland won with 43.25% of the vote to Donna Barcomb’s 41.76%, a 266-vote margin out of 17,779 cast. Jason Miller also won 14.99% of the vote.

“The work is just beginning as we focus on the future for Sarasota, and I can’t wait to get started,” McFarland said. Democrat Drake Buckman, who faced no primary, congratulated her but made clear he plans to defend the seat. “I am a local Sarasota candidate and I will be here long after Fiona McFarland has moved on to another location,” Buckman said.

Ron Cutsinger dominated in a District 5 Sarasota County Commission Republican primary, taking nearly 65% of the vote to Chris Hank’s 35%, and will now face Democrat Alice White in November. Incumbent County Commissioner Mike Moran also held on in a GOP primary over Mike Hutchinson, but by a surprisingly close margin of 51.8% to 48.2%. He faces Democrat Mark Pienkos in November.

In Manatee County, Commissioner Priscilla Whisenant Trace lost to challenger James Satcher in District 1, who led with 55% to her 45%. And George Kruse won an open at-large seat over the better funded former County Administrator Ed Hunzeker by a margin of 57% to 43%. School Board member Gina Messenger held onto her seat, and fellow School Board Member Dave “Watchdog” Miner was a top vote-getter but heads to a runoff after leading with less than 29% of the vote to challenger Mary Foreman’s more than 26%.

Photo: School Board Member elect Tom Edwards and outgoing School Board member Eric Robinson.

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