Updated with Wednesday morning results: 125 of 126 precincts counted
Republican candidates swept the local races in Lee County on Tuesday, an election day plagued with sporadic showers, long lines at the polls, and late results.
Incumbents Sheriff Mike Scott, Tax Collector Larry Hart and Lee County commissioners John Manning and Frank Mann easily held off challenges while commission candidates Larry Kiker and Cecil Pendergrass carried their races.
Adding wins on the GOP side of the ballot, Cape resident Dane Eagle won the District 77 state House seat, Lizabeth Benacquisto won the reconfigured District 30 state Senate seat, and Trey Radel won his congressional race for the seat formerly held by Connie Mack, who lost his bid for the U.S. Senate against Democrat Bill Nelson.
In the nonpartisan runoff for Lee County School Board, Jeanne S. Dozier staved off a challenge by Robert "Bob" Chilmonik with Lee County voters also approving an ordinance to authorize slot machines at the Naples Fort Myers Greyhound Track.
Voter turnout was less than 70 percent with 266,783 ballots counted among the 125 of 126 precincts reporting.
At 68.68 percent, it will be the lowest turnout in a presidential election year since 1976, the earliest election year posted on the Lee County Supervisor of Elections Office website, unless the number jumps substantially once the final tally is in.
Lee County has 388,427 registered voters; 266,783 cast ballots with 99.21 percent of the precincts counted.
Supervisor Sharon Harrington has scheduled a press conference for 11:30 a.m. today, Wednesday.
In the sheriff's race, Mike Scott culled an easy victory over Lee Bushong, who ran without party affiliation. According to the Wednesday morning results, Scott earned 165,853, or 66.02 percent of the vote to Bushong's 84,802 votes. Christian Meister ran as a write-in candidate; there were 544 write-in votes.
In the county races, John E. Manning easily held onto his District 1 seat. He earned 191,187 votes, or 96.27 percent of the vote, over write-in candidate Gerard David. There were 7,398 write-in votes.
In District 2, Cecil L. Pendergrass received 151,102 votes, or 67.98 percent over John W. Sawyer II, who ran with no party affiliation and Neal Moore, a write-in. Sawyer received 70,532 votes. There were 646 write-ins.
In the sharply contested race for the District 3 seat, former Fort Myers Beach mayor Larry Kiker beat Charlie Whitehead, who ran without party affiliation. Kiker, who beat the incumbent, Ray Judah, in the GOP primary, earned 141,144 votes, or 63.67 percent to Whitehead's 80,540, with 99.21 percent of the precincts counted.
"I couldn't be any happier," Kiker said Tuesday night. "We worked as hard as I think anybody could, and I think that is why we won," he said from Island View Restaurant on top of the Lani Kai Resort, where he held an election party. "Any good campaign has volunteers that help make things happen. There are some great people out there that care about their community, and I've been in a position to meet them now."
In District 5, Frank Mann easily swept past Matt Miller, Independence party of Florida. Mann culled 141,977 votes, or 62.63 percent, to Miller's 84,722 votes.
In the race for Tax Collector, Larry Hart, who spent 11 years as assistant tax collector before being appointed to fill the top seat following the death of Catherine Curtis, breezed past challenger James Chandler. Hart earned 166,211 votes, or 71.53 percent to Chandler's 66,168 votes.
In the race for the District 2 school board seat, Jeanne S. Dozier apparently bested Bob Chilmonik with 100,681 votes, or 52.42 percent, to 91,376 votes.
Trey Radel, a Fort Myers businessman and former talk show host, outpaced Cape businessman Jim Roach, a Democrat, and Naples software programmer Brandon M. Smith, who ran without part affiliation, to win the District 19 Congressional seat, which encompasses parts of Lee and Collier counties. Radel earned 189,291 votes, or 62.04 percent over Roach's 109,226 and Smith's 6,577.
Lizabeth Benacquisto will return to the state Senate outpacing Democrat Debbie Jordan. Benacquisto culled 123,448 votes, or 62.37 percent, to Jordan's 74,483. The District 30 seat includes parts of Lee and Charlotte counties.
Dane Eagle easily won the District 77 House seat, beating Democrat Arvella Clare. Eagle earned 38,819 votes, or 62.45 percent, to Clare's 23,337 votes.
Numbers were still pending from Lee County at press time.
All results are unofficial until certified.
With 99.21 percent of the precincts reporting, turnout in Lee County was reported at 68.68 percent, a sharp decline.
In 2008, the turnout was 85.27 percent; in 2004, the turnout was 79.25 percent and in 2000, the turnout in Lee County was 74 percent.
Observer editor Bob Petcher contributed to this report