Polk County voters today elected Rick Wilson to the County Commission and Lisa Miller to the School Board. They joined voters in two other counties to elect Dana Moore as a circuit judge. And in a Congressional race getting national attention, Democrat Kristen Carlson of Lakeland will face Ross Spano of Brandon in the Nov. 6 general election.

Also on the Nov. 6 ballot, voters will decide two School Board runoffs and a circuit court runoff, as well as races for County Commission and the Florida Legislature. Read on for results in today’s Congress, Florida Senate, County Commission, School Board and circuit judge races involving Lakeland voters.

U.S. House | Florida Senate | Polk County Commission | Polk School Board | Circuit Judge

ALSO: Polk results | Florida results

In Polk, 112,336 people voted, a turnout of 27.5 percent. Statewide, the turnout was 26.4 percent.

U.S. House

Carlson, who entered the race just as qualifying ended and received hefty campaign contributions, defeated Andrew Learned and Ray Peña for the Democratic nomination for U.S. House District 15.

The Ledger portrayed the race as a contest between a moderate Carlson who seeks bi-partisan cooperation and the more progressive Learned.

“I look forward to ensuring that we continue the progressive momentum of the last year and a half so that we have a Democrat in this seat next January,” Learned said in an emailed statement.

On the Republican side, Spano won big in his Hillsborough home turf, while Neil Combee carried Polk County. But with Hillsborough dominating the district, Spano defeated Combee and three other candidates.

The District 15 race is taking a high profile as Democrats are hoping to turn the district blue after decades of GOP dominance, and Republicans fought over which candidate was more loyal to President Trump.

The ultimate winner will succeed U.S. Rep. Dennis Ross of Lakeland, who announced in April he is vacating the seat after eight years in Congress.

District 15 encompasses Lakeland and much of northwest Polk as well as a large portion of northeast Hillsborough County and some rural parts of Lake County. (See a map.)

ALSO: Lakeland-area neighborhoods south of County Road 540A and Shepherd Road are at the northern tip of the large U.S. House District 17, which extends to Fort Myers. (See a map.) Democrat April Freeman will face Greg Steube to succeed Republican Tom Rooney of Okeechobee, who decided not to seek re-election | Ledger coverage

District 15, Republicans

Neil Combee: 20,577
Sean Harper: 6,013
Danny Kushmer: 4,061
Ed Shoemaker: 3,376
✓Ross Spano: 26,868

District 15, Democrats

✓ Kristen Carlson: 24,470
Andrew Learned: 14,488
Ray Peña: 6,895

District 17, Republicans

Bill Akins: 15,133
Julio Gonzalez: 14,402
✓ Greg Steube: 48,963

District 17, Democrats

✓ April Freeman: 33,376
Bill Pollard: 9,976

Florida Senate

Retired Circuit Judge Bob Doyel defeated former state Rep. Ricardo Rangel 66 percent to 34 percent and will face Republican incumbent Kelli Stargel Nov. 6.

“We’re going to put the message out that the way politics have been conducted in Tallahassee is not acceptable,” Doyel told The Ledger at his victory party.

Most of Lakeland is in Florida Senate District 22. (See a map)

Some parts of Lakeland north of I-4 are in District 20, a Hillsborough-dominated district (map) represented by Tom Lee, a Brandon Republican, who defeated challenger John Manners Houman 85 percent to 15 percent. In the general election, he will face Democrat Kathy Lewis, who defeated Joy Gibson 60 percent to 40 percent | Tampa Bay Times coverage

District 22, Democrats

✓ Bob Doyel: 20,770
Ricardo Rangel: 10,672

In the Nov. 6 general election, the winner faces Republican incumbent Kelli Stargel.

District 20, Democrats

Joy Gibson: 11,393
✓ Kathy Lewis: 17,343

District 20, Republicans

John Manners Houman: 5,419
✓ Tom Lee, incumbent: 30,375

Polk County Commission

Business owner and former NASCAR driver Rick Wilson will become a county commissioner, defeating Kathryn Gates-Skipper 63 percent to 37 percent. In a second County Commission race, educator Martha Santiago edged retired Navy officer Jim Guth 50.6 percent to 49.4 percent and will face Democrat Karen Cooper Welzel in November.

While county commissioners represent a geographic district, they are elected in countywide balloting | Ledger coverage

District 2, Republican

All registered voters could vote in this race because there was no other candidate for the general election. 

Kathryn “Kat” Gates-Skipper: 35,471
✓ Rick Wilson: 60,296

District 4, Republican

Jim Guth: 25,837
✓ Martha Santiago: 26,425

In the Nov. 6 general election, the winner faces Democrat Karen Cooper Welzel

Polk County School Board

Lisa Miller, a strong advocate for exceptional student education, defeated long-time Polk teacher and administrator David Byrd for the District 7 seat. Four-term incumbent Kay Fields faces runoff opposition from former teacher and reform advocate Jennifer Sabin. The District 3 race yielded a runoff between Sarah Fortney, a career educator, and Scott Jones, a Publix store manager | Ledger coverage

Incumbent Lynn Wilson was automatically re-elected to his District 6 seat because nobody filed to run against him. School Board members represent a geographic district, but are elected in countywide voting.

District 3 (nonpartisan)

✓ Sarah Fortney: 31,059
✓ Scott Jones: 30,240
LaTrice Moore: 16,696
Kala Tedder: 18,202

District 5 (nonpartisan)

Terry L. Clark: 30,117
✓ Kay Fields, incumbent: 36,263
✓ Jennifer Sabin: 30,622

District 7 (nonpartisan)

David Byrd: 42,531
✓ Lisa Miller: 54,160

Circuit Judges

Dana Y. Moore of Winter Haven defeated Steve Pincket in his third try for the circuit bench, while the Seat 10 race yielded a runoff between Lakeland residents Melissa Bravitt and Keith Merritt. The 10th Circuit includes Polk, Highlands and Hardee counties.

Moore, who will be the first African-American judge on the circuit bench in six years, told The Ledger she looks forward to bringing racial diversity to the circuit.

Seat 10

Lee Cohen: 27,853
✓ Melissa Gravitt: 51,605
✓ Keith P. Merritt: 36,897

Seat 11

✓ Dana Y. Moore: 69,567
Stephen Paul Pincket: 44,761


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Barry Friedman founded Lkldnow.com in 2015 as the culmination of a career in print and digital journalism. Since 1982, he has used the tools of reporting, editing and content curation to help people in Lakeland understand their community better.

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