George Anthony (right) embraces Jeff Ashton after Ashton wins the state attorney race in Tuesday night's primary election.
ORLANDO, Florida (WKMG) -- Casey Anthony trial prosecutor Jeff Ashton won the state attorney race against his former boss and incumbent Lawson Lamar in the 2012 Florida primary election Tuesday night.
With 89 percent of precincts reporting Tuesday, Ashton had 54 percent of the vote, leaving long-term incumbent Lamar with only 46 percent. Ashton proved to be Lamar's first threat since Lamar was elected to the 9th Judicial State Attorney in 1988.
Minutes after reporters finished questioning newly-elected Orange / Osceola County State Attorney about the Casey Anthony trial at his election night victory party, Anthony's father showed up to congratulate Ashton.
George Anthony hugged Ashton, but the exchange was brief. Within seconds, Ashton ended the conversation, saying, "Thank you very much, bye bye." Anthony promptly turned and left.
"This man deserves the position he just earned, he's a great guy," Anthony told our partners WKMG Local 6 outside Ashton's victory celebration at the Friendly Confines Sports Restaurant in Winter Park. "I've known him outside the courtroom more than people know. He's a passionate individual. He's going to do everything the right way."
Ashton was part of the prosecution team Lamar appointed to handle the Anthony case last year. The young mother was acquitted of murdering her 2-year-old daughter, Caylee, in a case that drew national attention.
Ashton said the Anthony trial wasn't what put him in office.
"I didn't win this because of one trial, I have a 30 year history with that office," said Ashton. "And I think people saw the trial, it gave them a reason to listen to me, it swayed them because of what I said is wrong with that office."
Ashton has pointed to that loss to underscore his claim that Lamar is a poor leader.
Lamar claimed Ashton lacks management experience and criticized him for profiting from the Anthony case by writing a book and making TV appearances.
"We told the truth at all points. It wasn't flashy, it was solid," Lamar said after his loss. "It didn't work tonight in the election, but that's just the new way. It's the new news cycle, it's the new power of the social media."
Lamar said he was disappointed by the loss, but said he's happy to have had his position as state attorney for six terms.
"If I got hit by a bus tomorrow, I've had a great life doing these things for people for all these years," Lamar said.