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Another legislator slides into office without opposition: new Sen. Wilton Simpson

Pasco Supervisor of Elections Brian Corley said Thursday that the Democratic Party missed today's 5 p.m. deadline to find a replacement candidate in the state Senate District 18 seat. That means Wilton Simpson, an egg farmer and businessman from Trilby, wins the seat unopposed.

Simpson's race is now over after a Hudson college student dropped his bid last week. Democrats had seven days to find a new candidate, but it appeared unlikely they would do so.

Simpson also avoided a potentially bruising campaign after state Rep. John Legg moved to an adjacent district just weeks before the August primary election. Though this is Simpson’s first campaign, he has long been a politically connected donor who also served on boards for the Pasco County Fair, Economic Development Council and the Pasco Farm Bureau. Simpson said he wants to focus on the economy, education and infrastructure and water issues.

Simpson, who employs incoming House Speaker Will Weatherford as his company's client relations specialist, becomes the fifth newcomer to the legislature -- and the only first-time senator -- to be elected with no opposition.

-- Lee Logan and Mary Ellen Klas