Lee County helps give Amira Fox a victory in GOP state attorney primary
Amira Fox won the primary race for State Attorney for the 20th Judicial District on Tuesday night over opponent Chris Crowley. Fort Myers News-Press
Assistant State Attorney Amira Fox handily defeated attorney Chris Crowley in the GOP primary for state attorney by a 57 to 43 percent vote margin with all precincts reporting.
The victory all but assures her of becoming the third state attorney for the 20th Judicial Circuit. Only registered Republicans were able to decide the outcome after Fort Myers attorney Joseph Hoffman qualified as a write-in candidate for the race. No Democrats ran in the primary. The final vote will come in the Nov. 6 general election.
"I'm really delighted the voters put their trust in me," Fox said. "I will work hard to lower the crime rate."
The crowd was large and boisterous at the Sanibel Harbour Marriott Resort where the Fox campaign was set up for the evening.
"Thank you all for sticking by me," she told a cheering, clapping crowd, and thanks family, friends, and supporters.
Among the crowd was Lee County Sheriff Mike Scott and Undersheriff Carmine Marceno, Cape Coral Mayor Joe Coviello, Ted Fitzgeorge, the public address announcer at JetBlue Park during Boston Red Sox spring training, and a host of others.
"These things are much more fun when you're not the candidate," Scott said.
The race was a rarity, at least in the 20th Circuit, where the circuit had a tendency for nobody to challenge the incumbent. The circuit covers Lee, Collier, Hendry, Charlotte, and Glades counties.
Fox carried all five counties, but was especially strong in Lee County where she defeated Crowley by 13,000 votes.
The election was brought about by the retirement of Steve Russell, 68, who has served as state attorney since 2003 and succeeded Joe D'Alessandro, who served in the post from about 1970 to 2002.
Fox raised more than $287,000 compared to Crowley's $30,000. Crowley also loaned himself $70,000. Her contributors include an array of Fort Myers-area defense attorneys and other lawyers including firms such as the Wilbur C. Smith III Law Firm.
The race was contentious almost from the beginning.
Crowley announced his candidacy in the spring of 2017 and kept a steady drumbeat of criticism, claiming Fox campaigned on work time, before and after she declared her candidacy, highlighted what he said was a family link to Middle East terror group, faulted her for not going after illegal slaughterhouse operations in east Lee County and said she should resign.
There were several complaints of ethics violations filed against Fox with the Florida Ethics Commission, one of which was dismissed.
The complaints claim Fox or her campaign for state attorney blocked or deleted negative comments made on social media, and heckled at some campaign forum events that featured both candidates.
A complaint against Crowley was referred by Russell to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement for review. The complaint alleged a felony violation related to a raffle supporters ran at one of his campaign rallies.
Crowley paid an $800 fine and signed a diversion contract that he said will ultimately lead to the charges being dropped.
Also highlighted by Crowley was a memoir that Fox's father, Tahir Dajani, wrote 10 years ago about growing up in Palestine. The book was critical of Israel and Crowley used it and Fox's ancestry to paint her as having a link to terror organizations.
She said she did not share her father's views on the subject.
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