Szabo concedes Hillsborough County sheriff's race
Szabo said after checking election numbers late Tuesday, it appeared that Hardy led the race by almost two to one.
"It looks as though the citizens of Hillsborough County aren't ready to have the Constitution restored," Szabo said.
Szabo ran on a platform that stressed the role of the United States Constitution in law enforcement.
Szabo said most elected sheriffs "ignore their most important duty, which is to serve their constituents by protecting their natural rights, including their rights to life, liberty and property."
Szabo, a businessman with no law enforcement experience, came under fire in the last weeks of the campaign for remarks he made regarding condoning the use of deadly force against doctors who perform abortions.
Szabo said abortion is considered murder, and that he would arrest anyone committing murder in Hillsborough County.
He later apologized for those remarks, attributing his comments to lack of experience with the media.
"They didn't portray the campaign accurately," he said.
Szabo would not say whether the remarks hurt his campaign, but said some good came out of it.
"I had people that responded very positively because of how I handled it," he said, adding that his refusal to pull out of the race was an indication that he stood up for what he believed in and refused to back down or change his position on the issue.
"I didn't bow out because of any embarrassment," he said. "I did my best to get my message out."
Hardy, who will face off against Democrat Bill Barry in November, said he was pleased with the results.
"I'm very appreciative of the support of the primary voters," he said.
Szabo wished Hardy luck in his next term, but said, "I hope he pays attention to what the role of the sheriff really is."
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Kathy Remillard may be reached at email@example.com.