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Rodrigues upends free-spending rival in District 76

By Staff | Aug 15, 2012

Despite being outspent by more than 2-to-1 by two-term state House Rep. Michael Grant, Ray Rodrigues emerged with an easy District 76 win Tuesday in the GOP primary.

Rodrigues won the battle of political veterans vying for the District 76 seat in the Florida House of Representatives with surprising ease. He collected 46 percent of the vote compared with 28 percent for Grant and 26 percent for political upstart Chauncey Solinger.

Rodrigues garnered 4,978 votes compared with 3,068 for Rodrigues and 2,784 votes for Solinger. No Democrats qualified so Grant wins the seat outright.

Rodrigues had predicted his homespun experience and connections would be able to overcome Grant’s financial clout and statewide connections.

“If you look at former state Rep. Michael Grant we both share political experiences. The difference is he served in Tallahassee and I served locally,” Rodrigues said. “I understand our community and the challenges our community is facing because I’ve been here dealing with them.”

Grant raised the most and spent the most in District 76, which includes Sanibel and Captiva. He raised $187,146 and spent $127,307, according to the Florida Department of State Division of Elections.

Rodrigues raised $71,201 and spent $51,938. Solinger came up with just $18,766 in election funds and spent $17,214.

Rodrigues, 42, budget manager for Florida Gulf Coast University, worked the Lee County political scene well. His resume includes stints as vice chairman of the Lee County Republican Party and Lee County Housing Authority commissioner.

His platform includes efforts to improve private sector job creation, diversify the local economy and keep local government transparent and accountable. Other Rodrigues concerns include out-of-control government spending and cutting red tape.

“I have a record of advocating on issues according to the values of this district,” Rodrigues said. “I want smaller and more limited government. I’m committed to the community as only a man who has lived here 18 years can be.”