Florida House Rep. Toby Overdorf was reelected to a third term Tuesday, beating Chris Tucker for the District 85 seat.
In Martin County, Overdorf won 71.3% of the votes. In St. Lucie County, he won 56.69% of the votes, with all but one precinct reporting by 10 p.m. Tuesday.
Overdorf will serve a two-year term that pays $29,697 annually to represent a district that straddles Martin and St. Lucie counties and includes parts of Palm City, Jensen Beach and Port St. Lucie.
Overdorf, a Palm City Republican, spent $182,157 of the $218,481 he collected for his campaign, which included $21,787 in in-kind donations. Tucker, a Port St. Lucie Democrat, spent $5,548 of his $7,200, which included $1,600 of his own money and $1,000 in in-kind donations.
The Treasure Coast’s affordable housing crisis and water pollution were among the biggest issues in the race.
2022 election: TCPspanlm’s complete coverspange
House District 85: Chris Tucker chspanllenges Toby Overdorf
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Florida affordable housing issues
The Treasure Coast was one of the most overvalued housing markets nationwide and had the fourth-highest annual rent increase in 2022.
Tucker had cast doubt on the effectiveness of the legislative policies that emerged from a special session on property insurance, calling it “token legislation” that won’t have an immediate impact.
But Overdorf said he was proud legislators approved incentives to strengthen homes against hurricanes. That legislation directed $2 billion of taxpayer money into a fund to help insurers pay hurricane damage claims, limits lawsuits against companies and has homeowners shouldering more of the cost for roof replacements.
Overdorf also lauded better access to roof inspections; reinsurance giving way to a dip in insurance rates; and decreased lawyer fees for those suing insurance companies. But the effects won’t be immediate. They may be seen in about a year.
“I expect that the insurance premiums for this year, unfortunately, will not be as much impact,” Overdorf said before the Nov. 8 election. “We believe that by next year, we’ll see some decreases as policies are renewed this next year.”
Lake Okeechobee discharges
Tucker criticized Overdorf’s environmental voting record, saying the environmental consultant should don the title of “anti-environmental consultant.” Overdorf voted for two controversial bills Gov. Ron DeSantis vetoed, which critics said would have:
- Kept Lake Okeechobee’s water level higher to ensure Big Sugar’s irrigation needs, which could have increased discharges to the St. Lucie River.
- Hampered solar power expansion throughout the state by letting utility companies limit, and eventually eliminate, how much solar customers could sell back their excess energy for.
- Tasked DEP with septic tank regulation instead of the Department of Health
- Increase fines for violations of environmental rules
- Required farmers to provide fertilizer records.
Overdorf was one of several local politicians who lauded the bill’s approval, despite clean-water advocates saying it didn’t go far enough to stop pollution at its source.
“I formed the very first ever South Florida Water Management District caucus,” Overdorf said before the election, “and was able to bring in over half of the members within the Florida House and able to educate them on the issues.”
Democrat Chris Tucker
Before moving here 11 years ago, Tucker worked in New York government, including the New York State Division of Housing and Community Renewal, among other committees, he said. He also served as a legislative representative for the New York State Association for Affordable Housing, a statewide trade association, he said.
Since moving here, Tucker has worked at Publix for the past seven years and been an Uber and Lyft rideshare driver in Martin and St. Lucie counties for the past three years, he said. He’s met thousands of residents at a time when “the cost of housing is now front and center,” which inspired him to run for office, he said.
“It really helped me appreciate the struggle most of the people in this district face,” Tucker said before the election. “There’s seniors on fixed incomes who struggle to pay for groceries. Many of my riders are in substandard housing and I drive them to entry-level jobs. I see firsthand how people struggle.”
Tucker proposed stopping “the assault on home rule, so that local governments can best enact policies that work for the needs of their citizens,” his website said. He also wanted to fully fund the Sadowski Trust Fund, a state initiative to allocate affordable housing funds.