Democratic challenger for Pinellas County Sheriff Scott Swope thanked volunteers, supporters and friends at the VFW in Dunedin shortly after conceding to incumbent Bob Gualtieri in Tuesday's election.
Swope called Gualtieri and left a message telling him to "do good for these next four years." Swope made the call after 85 percent of the vote was in favor of the incumbent.
This is "the end of a 14-month journey that has been very, very strenuous, time consuming and expensive," he said.
Swope received more than 205,000 votes but trailed Gualtieri by more than 20,000 votes with nearly all precincts reporting. Swope called the campaign a "David vs Goliath" battle from the beginning and is proud of the votes he earned.
"I am rejuvenated in my faith in people and the support that people can give to someone that they really believe in," Swope said.
"I voted for the person who should have won," Swope supporter Cassandra Gallegos said. Gallegos joined about three dozen suporters and held out hope that Swope would become the next Pinellas County Sheriff.
Dunedin resident Stacy Rush says they were praying for Swope to win, and although their candidate didn't win over voters she hopes Gualtieri realizes that he needs to "step it up" for residents.
Although Swope says he knew it was an uphill battle, "I saw that there were some changes that were needed at the sheriff's office, I had hoped that I'd be able to convince the voters of that and it didn't happen," he believes his campaign brought forward important issues that needed to be addressed.
"I'm hoping that in the coming months or years he does more and he does better, resolving the warrants problem that we have in Pinellas County and dealing with human trafficking, which is not being dealt with right now. There's some really important issues that need to be dealt with and hopefully they'll take care of those things," Swope said.
Swope served as a deputy with the sheriff's office before starting his own law practice. Swope has practiced law in Pinellas County for 14 years in areas including civil litigation, estate planning, probate and corporate law.
Swope currently lives in Palm Harbor with his wife and two children.
"Am I going to run again? I'll have to evaluate that in four years and see if Gualtieri is able to heed some of the advice and criticism that has come out over the last year and do better."