IRNA-backed candidates see bump from early voting

INDIAN RIVER COUNTY — Two candidates backed by the Indian River Neighborhood Association started out strong when the 10,000 or so early and absentee voting tallies were released, but that “bump” was short lived once election-day votes began to come in.

Republicans Dale Simchick, who is running for District 2 against Incumbent Joe Flescher and challenger Charlie Wilson, and Peter O’Bryan, who vies for the District 4 seat against challenger Tom Lowther, have both slipped several percentage points from their opening positions.

Each election season, the IRNA conducts a big campaign to get its supporters to complete absentee ballots. In previous elections, the IRNA endorsements reportedly helped sway thousands of votes for candidates representing controlled-growth interests.

Since 40 of 54 precints have now reported, candidates Joe Flescher and Tom Lowther, who were not endorsed by the IRNA, have gained steam.

As of 9:45 p.m. Lowther is within 5 percentage points of O’Bryan, with only about 600 votes separating the two men in this much-anticipated rematch of the 2006 election in which O’Bryan unseated Lowther.

Flescher has pulled ahead of Simchick by a 6-point margin. Earlier in the evening, Flescher and Simchick were only 2 points apart and there was a 10-point margin separating O’Bryan and Lowther.

School Board incumbent Carol Johnson, who is a long-time affiliate of the IRNA, also began the evening with a 20-point lead over newcomer Richard Marini, but that lead has now shrunk to 15 points.

With 14 precincts left to report, several of them on the barrier island and Sebastian, the remaining returns could make for a down-to-the-wire finish in at least the District 4 race.

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