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2nd Democrat files in HD 41, faces Judge Robert Doyel in primary

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

A second Democrat has filed for the House District 41 seat currently held by term-limited Winter Haven Republican John Wood.

If he makes the ballot, 23-year-old University of Pennsylvania student Nicolas Garcia will face off against retired Judge Robert Doyel in the Democratic primary, while three Republicans duke it out for the GOP nod.

Garcia will have to act fast on the fundraising front. After entering the race last month, Doyel gave his campaign a headstart with a $10,000 loan. That puts him in a better position than the last two Democrats to run for the seat, but Republicans in the race have been more prosperous.

GOP fundraiser Sam Killebrew currently leads the pack with nearly $65,000 on-hand, though $28,000 of that money came through loans. Polk County Commissioner Edwin Van Smith sits with nearly $33,000 on-hand, none of it from loans, after seven months in the race, and newly filed Republican Charles A. Davis, also a former judge, has more than $11,500 in the bank after his first month.

District 41 could be a competitive seat for Democrats in 2016. Voter registration statistics show Republicans don’t have as firm a grip on the seat as Wood’s 18-point victory over Democrat Celestyne Williams last year might indicate. Wood’s 2012 race, against Democrat Karen Weizel, was decided by only three points.

Neither Williams nor Weizel crossed the $20,000 mark in their campaigns, compared to back-to-back six-figure campaigns for Wood.

Drew Wilson covers legislative campaigns and fundraising for SaintPetersBlog and FloridaPolitics.com. While at the University of Florida, Wilson was an editor at The Independent Florida Alligator and after graduation, he moved to Los Angeles to cover business deals for The Hollywood Reporter. Before joining Extensive Enterprises, Wilson covered the state economy and Legislature for LobbyTools.

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