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Eric Eisnaugle draws 19-year-old challenger in HD 44

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Potential Speaker-to-be Eric Eisnaugle has now drawn a challenger: Democrat Scott Cox, a 19-year-old first-time candidate.

The challenge was first reported by Frank Torres in The Orlando Political Observer.

As a physics major attending Valencia Community College, Cox cites “proven leadership” on his campaign website for his roles with the Democratic National Committee, American Atheists and Mensa International. He attends Mormon services at the Olympia Church of Latter-Day Saints.

Still, the Orlando-area District 44 favors Republicans and is not likely to be seriously targeted by state Democrats.

Eisnaugle left the Legislature in 2012 when his House seat was drawn into that of longtime Rep. Steve Precourt during the acrimonious 2011 redistricting process. Eisnaugle was a third-term member at the time, and bowed out in deference to Precourt, two years his legislative senior.

He got another crack at it, however, when Precourt resigned in 2014 to take a lucrative job with the Orlando Expressway Authority, a move that soon came under intense scrutiny for involving so-called “backroom dealings.”

Eisnaugle has collected about $55,000 for his 2016 re-election campaign. His strong fundraising background was a selling point as he courted commitment cards for his speakership bid.

Ryan Ray writes about campaigns and public policy in Tampa Bay and across the state. A contributor to and before that, The Florida Squeeze, he covers the Legislature as a member of the Florida Capitol Press Corps and has worked as a staffer on several campaigns. He can be reached at

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