Florida House: Primary win puts Valdes in Tallahassee

TAMPA — Democratic candidate Susan Valdes won the House District 62 seat on Tuesday and will replace term-limited state Rep. Janet Cruz, who has served since 2010.

Valdes beat Michael Alvarez, 34, a Marine veteran. Union organizer Christopher Cano came in a distant third.

There were no Republicans running in the heavily Democratic and Hispanic district that covers West Tampa and northwest Hillsborough County so  Valdes, 53, wins the seat outright. She could not be reached for comment Tuesday night.

Valdes is a longtime member of the Hillsborough County School Board, serving there since 2004. She served as chair of the School Board in 2009 and again in 2014.

During the campaign, she promoted a decidedly progressive agenda: fulfilling the Florida Constitution’s requirement that education funding be a “paramount duty” of the state; supporting Medicaid expansion with federal funding; improving mass transit and mental health care services; and strengthening environmental protections.

In the contentious race, Alvarez and Valdes traded jabs on a number of issues. But shortly before the results came in, Alvarez called his opponent to congratulate her on a well-fought campaign.

“I truly wish her good luck in her future endeavor,” Alvarez said. “As her future constituent, I will be rooting for her success.”

State representatives serve two year terms and earn $29,697 a year.