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John Lundin would like to remind voters that there is still an election for Collier County's District 5 commissioner on Nov. 6.
Lundin said it has been hard to have people automatically presume that Republican Tim Nance, who won Tuesday's primary, will be the district's next commissioner.
Following Nance's victory, Lundin said members of the public called on him to resign. He won't, he said.
"I am a candidate and I am running for office," he said. "I realize I am here as a Democrat and he has more money than I do. But there is still an election. He's not commissioner yet."
As the primary election gives way to November's general election, the spotlight is suddenly on challengers in races who many see as not having a chance, either because they are political novices, they are running against a popular incumbent, they are not running as Republicans, or some consider them not to be viable candidates.
Lundin, who is running as John "Robinhood" Lundin on the ballot, has focused the majority of his efforts on Immokalee in a district that includes Everglades City and Golden Gate Estates. He has campaigned on issues like opening a vegetable theme park in Immokalee and alleged that his car was stolen by political opponents and then the Collier County Sheriff's Office.
But he said he is serious about improving Collier County and points to his opposition to Jackson Labs — he was an outspoken opponent at commission meetings — and his concerns about improving minority rights as reasons he is a viable candidate.
Nance, who defeated Commissioner Jim Coletta in the primary, said Tuesday that defeating a long-term incumbent was very difficult, but that does not mean he is taking his match up against Lundin lightly.
"I am not the commissioner yet. I have to reach out to all of the people — the people who voted against me, the residents who are Democrats and have no party affiliation," he said. "District 5 has 65,000 people who need representation. We're a diverse district with a lot of different desires."
Peter Bergerson, a Florida Gulf Coast University political science professor, said "barring a political tsunami," candidates who come through a primary and face an opponent who did not have a primary are usually elected. But, that doesn't mean candidates can stop campaigning, he said.
"The public recognizes that the primary winner will most likely win, but ... acting like you have no opposition or serious opposition is a bad idea," he said. "Serious candidates take issues of public trust seriously. Winning an election is a reflection of the public's trust."
Commissioner Donna Fiala, who won the Republican primary with about 68 percent of the vote, said the secret to her success is staying close to the community.
"I love them and I work for them and they know that," she said of her constituents.
It's one of the reasons Fiala isn't worried about her contest in November, against no party affiliation candidate Russell Kish.
"With the number of Republicans in this town, it is hard for someone who is an independent or who has no party affiliation to win," she said.
Collier County has 90,083 registered Republican voters, more than the combined total of 41,549 Democrats and 39,758 other voters, according to the Supervisor of Elections Office.
Kish said the fact that Fiala spent almost $60,000 of the $77,337 in monetary contributions she received before the primary shows that Fiala took her primary seriously. He said he has an uphill climb, but said voters should not count him out.
"There are a lot of disgruntled Republicans out there," said Kish, who hopes to woo voters with his fiscally conservative ideas. "There are Democrats and independents who vote, too."
Collier Sheriff Kevin Rambosk said he felt the primary was limiting for his campaign because a candidate works to appeal only to those primary voters. Rambosk, who captured about 80 percent of the vote on Tuesday, said he is now working to speak with all voters.
"What's of real interest to me is to expand beyond the Republican-voting residents and get more broadly into the community," he said. "I am looking forward to it from the perspective of talking to more residents to see what their concerns are for the future."
Rambosk faces local businessman and no party affiliation candidate Vincent "Vinny" Angiolillo in November. He defeated Angiolillo by a landslide when they both ran on the Republican ticket in 2008 — Angiolillo won about 5 percent of the vote.
Angiolillo's 2008 campaign was unusual and included showing up at political events in his limousine driver uniform and riding down Airport-Pulling Road on the back of an elephant just days before the election.
When asked if that 2008 victory allowed him to ease back, the sheriff said he plans to keep his campaign moving forward as he would for any opponent. Attempts to reach Angiolillo for comment were not successful.
Lee Bushong, a no party affiliation candidate running against incumbent Lee County Sheriff Mike Scott and write-in candidate Christian Meister in the general election, said being the candidate who didn't have a challenger has opened some doors for him.
"I know what his platform is now, what he's trying to run on," he said of Scott.
Bushong said he also was not constrained from concentrating on one group of voters before the primary.
"I have no party affiliation because I wanted to represent all people," he said.
Larry Kiker, who knocked out longtime Lee County Commissioner Ray Judah in Tuesday's Republican primary, is running for District 3 against no party affiliation candidate Charlie Whitehead. He said he is starting what he considers another campaign.
"You zero out your bank account and start anew," Kiker said.