Ben Diamond, Wengay Newton kill it in House primaries, others win narrowly

Tampa Bay's State House primaries had a couple of nail-biters leading up to Aug. 30.

Some got incredibly contentious, while others had at most a dustup or two.

In some cases, victors of these primaries will likely have little competition in the general, while others have another fight cut out for them.

H.D. 60

It was a Republican primary for a (mostly) South Tampa swing seat that pitted businesswoman Rebecca Smith against businesswoman Jackie Toledo. Smith had support from GOP heavyweights like Adam Putnam, but Toledo squeezed by with 50.89 percent to Smith's 49.11 percent.

Toledo may have benefited from name recognition; she ran for Tampa City Council in 2015, but lost to Guido Maniscalco (a Democrat, though it was technically a nonpartisan race).

She goes on to faces Democrat David Singer, a Tampa lawyer, in the general.

H.D. 61

This is one of those decided-in-the-primary races for the East Tampa seat currently held by Ed Narain, who declined to run for reelection so he could run for State Senate (it appears unsuccessfully). Contenders Dianne Hart, Sean Shaw and Walter Smith fought in a three-person primary. Shaw, a former state Insurance Consumer Advocate, eked out a win over beauty salon owner/affordable housing advocate Hart by just under one percent; 47.71 percent to Hart's 41.92 percent. Civil engineer Walter Smith, the third candidate, took 15.38 percent.

H.D. 68: Ben Diamond

It was a hard-fought primary battle between two likable Democrats, Ben Diamond and Eric Lynn.

It was a primary where bother candidates went negative.

Polls showed it going either way, neither out-raised the other by a massive margin and some Democrats weren't sure which way to vote.

In the end, Diamond bested opponent Eric Lynn by roughly 54 to 46 percent.

When the results were in, the environmental group Florida Conservation Voters sent out a release congratulating him.

“Ben Diamond play[ed] a key role in our campaign to pass the Water and Land Conservation amendment in 2014,” said the group's executive director Aliki Moncrief. “We know how deeply committed he is to seeing conservation funding restored. Ben will work tirelessly to clean up the pollution that is choking our waterways, hurting our economy, and endangering the health of Florida families.”

H.D. 70

This seat represents parts of four counties: Hillsborough, Manatee, Pinellas and Sarasota and is a Democratic stronghold that State Rep. Darryl Rouson (D-St. Pete) is leaving due to term limits.

Being an open seat in a safe Dem district, the primary drew three Democratic candidates: C.J. Czaia, Dan Fiorini and former St. Pete Councilman Wengay Newton.

Perhaps due in part to squabbles between Czaia and Fiorini (namely because Czaia hired known homophobe Theresa "Momma Tee" Lassiter to consult him on African-American issues), Newton — the only African-American in a race to represent a largely African-American district — crushed his competition. 

He picked up 61.83 percent of the vote to Fiorini's 20.98 percent and Czaia's 17.18 percent of the vote.

Newton will face newcomer Cori Fournier, a Republican, in November.