Reggie Fullwood is headed back to the Florida House. It just took a little longer than expected.
Fullwood (D-Jacksonville) easily won a special election Tuesday over Republican Lawrence Jefferson to reclaim the House District 13 seat that was left vacant after paperwork errors prevented Fullwood from qualifying for the November ballot.
With all precincts reporting, Fullwood captured nearly 57 percent of the vote in the solidly Democratic Duval County district, according to totals posted on state and county elections websites. Fullwood also easily defeated Jacksonville City Council member Johnny Gaffney in a December party primary.
Fullwood's campaign issued a statement Tuesday night that touched on his priorities of improving public schools, adding jobs in downtown Jacksonville and expanding Medicaid.
"I am honored that the people of District 13 have chosen me as their voice in Tallahassee,'' Fullwood said in the statement. "Hard-working Floridians deserve a fully-funded public education system for their children, a fair wage for a fair day's work, and access to the highest quality health care for themselves and their families."
House Minority Leader Mark Pafford (D-West Palm Beach) also issued a statement noting that Fullwood will be back in the House for the March 3 start of the legislative session.
"It’s great to have Representative Fullwood back in the Florida House," Pafford said. "He makes our caucus stronger with his presence and experience."
Fullwood, 39, was elected to the House in 2010, after serving on the Jacksonville City Council. He was expected to cruise to re-election last year without opposition, but errors by notaries public prevented him from qualifying. Without any District 13 candidates on the November ballot, the seat became vacant, forcing Gov. Rick Scott to call a special election.
With backing from many interest groups in Tallahassee, Fullwood collected $171,530 in contributions for the special election, according to the state Division of Elections website. Jefferson, by contrast, raised $9,390.
© 2015 The News Service of Florida