State Rep. District 65: Nehr Loses to Zimmermann
Republican incumbent Peter Nehr lost his seat in the state house to Democrat Carl Zimmermann, who is a teacher.
Countryside High School teacher Carl Zimmermann beat Republican incumbent Peter Nehr on Tuesday in the race for State Representative District 65. It was the third time that Zimmermann had run against Nehr.
Zimmermann had nearly 53 percent of the vote to Nehr's 47 percent in the Nov. 6 General Election. The candidates were separated by 4,536 votes.
Patch spoke to Zimmermann by phone shortly after the first absentee ballots were released showing that Zimmermann had the lead over Nehr. He was at home watching election returns with close family members.
"I'm holding my breath," Zimmermann said.
Later Tuesday evening, he felt much different.
"It feels surreal and amazing and I just can't wait to go to Tallahassee. I can't wait to bring a teacher's perspective to Tallahassee," he said.
Zimmermann thought that the controversies surrounding Nehr over the last year may have contributed to his election loss. Nehr made headlines when Pinellas County Sheriff Jim Coats threatened to close an internet cafe that Nehr owned, claiming he was using illegal coin-operated gambling devices. Shirtless photos of Nehr also surfaced during his re-election campaign, which made headlines.
"I think it was the questionable things that he had done and the fact that I controlled my message this time. Nobody else was involved," said Zimmermann.
The newly-elected lawmaker planned to celebrate his win with fellow Democrats Tuesday evening, however he did not plan on staying out late because it was a school night.
Nehr and his supporters gathered at the Palm Harbor Lee Roy Selmon's restaurant on election night. The mood was subdued all evening.
A campaign staffer told Patch that they knew the race would be close, but the results were a shock.
Nehr spoke to Patch shortly after the election results came in.
"I was a little bit surprised. We thought we were doing everything correctly. The will of the people is the will of the people and if they say they want somebody new, I have to accept that," said Nehr, who also praised his supporters.
"My supporters, I am so eternally grateful to them. They worked so very hard."