TAMPA - Middle school teacher Mark Danish slept less than two hours Tuesday night, after he found out he defeated incumbent Shawn Harrison in the race for House seat in District 63. All day Wednesday he's been fielding calls of congratulations.
"A true grass-roots effort, that's what this ended up being," said Danish.
For the past 30 years, Danish taught school. He teaches science at Benito Middle School. But with the help of many, including his son, Michael, as campaign advisor, they mapped out a road to victory.
"We came in with a really tight strategy on how we wanted to target the district. Whoever won New Tampa would pretty much win the district," said Danish.
So they got out their walking shoes.
"These are the walking shoes, and you can see they are pretty much worn out," the elder Danish said holding up the shoes.
If you looked closely, you could see holes in the soles. Mark and his entire team walked every inch of their surrounding neighborhood. They didn't have the money of their opponent, Shawn Harrison. Only $17,000 compared to Harrison's $266,000, according to records. But Danish says it didn't deter him.
We are told it was a record. A lot of people told me it is impossible -- it couldn't be done. And we decided instead of going after money, we went after votes," said Danish.
And when it was over Tuesday, Danish beat Harrison by just over 600 votes.
But that's less than one percent. And a spokesperson with the Supervisor of Elections office said a final decision hasn't been made on provisional ballots and the deadline for absentee ballots from the military isn't until the 16th. Still, Danish isn't worried, and is making plans for Tallahassee.
Harrison said while it is close, he conceded the race.
"We did all we could. But there is a huge number of Democrats and they came out for the presidential election. I wish Mark well," Harrison said,
Michael feels his dad won more than a race
"It says you don't need a lot of money. Anyone who has the passion and fire to get out there and try fight for the issues they believe in, it sends a powerful message that anyone can run for office," said the younger Danish.
The team has too many people to thank to list. Instead, the team got ready for part two, dismantling the signs but not to throw them out, but to put 'thank you' on the back, along with a big 'thank you' to everyone.
Copyright 2012 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
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