Before the Republican leadership in the Florida Senate coronates John Legg as Jack Latvala‘s successor, it might want to check with former state Rep. Ed Hooper.
On Tuesday, Hooper told FloridaPolitics.com that he has mailed his paperwork to the Florida Division of Elections making him a candidate for Latvala’s north Pinellas seat, which will be up for grabs in 2018.
“It just upset me … that a deal had been cut for a lifelong Pasco guy,” Hooper told FloridaPolitics.com. The former lawmaker and Clearwater City Commissioner is referring to recent reports that Senate President-to-be Bill Galvano and other Republican leaders would back Legg in 2018 for Latvala’s seat if Legg would stand down from running in 2016 against Pasco’s Wilton Simpson, also in line to be Senate President.
“John Legg is a nice man and I respect him very much, but over two thirds of this seat is located in Pinellas County,” Hooper said. “I just think that a deal ought not be cut to just hand it to him.”
Hooper said he is surprised that after the redistricting imbroglio that has gripped state politics this decade that the Florida Senate – and not the electorate – is still trying to pick its members.
“I think the voters of Pinellas and western Pasco ought to have a say,” Hooper said.
A former firefighter who served four terms in the Legislature before being term-limited from the House, Hooper, 68, lost a contentious race in 2014 for the Pinellas County Commission to Democrat Pat Gerard, but since then has maintained a public profile.
During his final year in the Legislature, Hooper was chair of the Transportation & Economic Development Appropriations Subcommittee. He also received numerous “A” ratings from the Florida Chamber of Commerce Honor Roll, Florida Education Association, and the Florida Home Builders Association.
Throughout most of his political career, Hooper has been seen as a strong ally of Latvala, the veteran lawmaker he hopes to succeed. But so too has been Legg, so it will be very interesting to see who, if anyone, Latvala supports.
Of course, this all assumes Legg runs for Latvala’s seat in 2018. In extended conversations with FloridaPolitics.com, Legg has indicated that the north Pinellas state Senate seat is just one of several options he is considering.
Might Hooper announcing early for this seat affect Legg’s thinking? We will likely have to wait until after the 2016 Legislative Session to find out.