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Walnut Hill candidate takes victory in Florida primary

By By SHERRY DIGMON
Advance Staff Writer
Eddie Cook came through last week's special primary election with a commanding victory over his Democratic opponent, Victor Kolmetz, bringing him one step closer to the District 1 seat in the Florida House of Representatives.
District 1 consists of parts of Escambia, Santa Rosa and Okaloosa counties. Six Republicans and two Democrats were on the ticket.
Cook, who resides in Walnut Hill, took 73 percent of the Democratic vote in Escambia County, Fla., and 67 percent in Santa Rosa County. Overall, he took 68.6 percent.
Republicans Greg Evers, who lives in Baker, and C. Robert Hilliard of Milton were almost evenly split in Escambia County with Evers getting 19 percent and Hilliard 20 percent. In Santa Rosa County, however, Hilliard had the edge, getting 33 percent to Evers' 21 percent. The total was close with Hilliard winning a slight edge over Evers, 26.6 percent to 24.5 percent.
The seat in the Florida Legislature was vacated by State Rep. Jeff Miller who resigned his seat to run for the seat vacated by U.S. Rep. Joe Scarborough who announced in May that he was stepping down.
In addition to Escambia and Santa Rosa counties, U.S. District 1 includes Walton, Okaloosa, and Holmes counties, and the western half of Bay County.
In a field of six candidates, Miller easily won the Republican primary, taking 55 percent of the vote in Escambia County and 66 percent in Santa Rosa County. Miller got 54.1 percent overall.
He will face Democrat Steve Briese in the Oct. 16 special election. Briese defeated Chuck Lynch 79 percent to 21 percent in Escambia County and 73 to 27 percent in Santa Rosa County. Briese took 76.8 percent of the overall votes.
In early July, Bonnie M. Jones, Escambia County Supervisor of Elections, predicted a low voter turnout. Her guess was around 20 percent. She was close. The voter turnout in Escambia County was 16.74 percent.
According to the Florida Department of State Division of Elections, turnout was low across the board: Bay County, 7.4 percent; Escambia, 16.7 percent; Holmes, 8.7 percent; Okaloosa, 17.1 percent; Santa Rosa, 18.7 percent; Walton, 11.7 percent; total, 16.1 percent.
A breakdown of votes cast in Escambia and Santa Rosa counties is published on page 3 of today's edition.