Here’s where sh*t stands in Tampa Bay politics – the ‘look who’s running for what’ edition

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The $20 Million Dollar Man, Bernie Fensterwald, filed Friday to run in Senate District 16, the seat currently held by term-limited Jack Latvala. The Dunedin Democrat created a buzz in Florida political circles last year when, in a campaign against state Rep. Chris Sprowls, listed that he’s worth nearly $20 million in his financial disclosure forms.

Despite his fortune, Fensterwald never materialized as a serious threat to Sprowls. who thumped his opponent by more than thirty points.

The only other candidate in the SD 16 race is former Rep. Ed Hooper, who is widely seen as the establishment favorite to succeed Latvala.

Hooper had a solid, but not spectacular, month of fundraising. The Pinellas Republican added $13,372 to his campaign coffers, including a $1,000 check from state Sen. Travis Hutson‘s political committee. Almost all of the other legislative races saw little fundraising activity as lawmakers are prohibited from raising money during the legislative session.

One legislative candidate who was able to raise money during May was Republican Berny Jacques. After raising more than $40,000 during his first two months on the campaign trail, the former state prosecutor’s fundraising slowed, with Jacques raising $6,383 last month.

Ray Blacklidge became the first candidate to enter the race for House District 69. Read our profile of Blacklidge here.

First-term state Rep. Wengay Newton will introduce his legislative staff at a Sarasota town hall meeting at the North Sarasota Library, 2801 Newtown Blvd. 5:30 p.m. The St. Petersburg Democrat, whose HD 70 reaches into Sarasota County, will offer the public “firsthand knowledge” on how the “sausage is made in Tallahassee.

Anyone who knows political activist Barb Haselden knows she’s no push over. The Tea Partier is running in an ultra-competitive three-way Republican primary (versus Reps. Larry Ahern and Kathleen Peters) and, going by the May fundraising reports, she’s in it to win it. She kick-started her campaign with a $20,000 loan. Sure, Ahern and Peters should be able to raise much more than that, but if Haselden uses that $20K to build a smart campaign apparatus, she’ll be able to raise a good deal of money, too.

Did anyone else know that former state Rep. Carl Zimmermann is a candidate for Pinellas County School Board?

Gov. Rick Scott announced the appointment of Gregory Groger to the 6th Judicial Circuit Court (Pinellas and Pasco counties). Groger has served as an assistant state attorney for the 6th Judicial Circuit since 2003. He received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Florida and his law degree from Stetson University College of Law. Groger fills the vacancy created by the resignation of Judge Walter L. Schafer, Jr.

Old news: “Janet Cruz considering a run for Hillsborough Commission” via Michael Auslen of the Tampa Bay Times on June 12. Florida Politics’ Mitch Perry first reported May 31 that Cruz was thinking about running for the Commission.

Southern Strategy Group is hosting a fundraiser tomorrow for Hillsborough County Commissioner Ken Hagen’s re-election effort. Event begins 5 p.m. at the SSG Tampa office, 201 E. Kennedy Blvd., Suite 1450. Host committee includes former state Rep. Seth McKeel, Mike and Melanie Griffin, and attorneys Ron Christaldi, Steve Bernstein and Drew Jenkins.

Speaking of SSG – SSG lobbyists Laura Boehmer and Sydney Ridley have registered for the American Craftsman Museum, a Palm Harbor-based nonprofit that serves as the repository (along with St. Pete’s upcoming 110,000-square-foot Museum of the American Arts and Crafts Movement) for the Two Red Roses Foundation collection, with more than 1,600 works from the Arts and Crafts movement, 1890 to 1930.

The Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce host the Tampa Bay Rays Outing Tuesday, June 20, at Tropicana Field. Chamber members from Clearwater, St. Pete and Tampa Chambers are invited to watch the Rays face the Cincinnati Reds at 7 p.m. Discounted Press Level seating tickets are $30 and includes a special Rays cap.

Tiger Bay Club of Tampa hosts its 2017 Legislative Wrap Up during a luncheon meeting Friday, June 16. Speakers include state Sen. Tom Lee, and state Reps. Darryl Rouson, Shawn Harrison, Wengay Newton and Dan Raulerson. Registration is 11:30 a.m., meeting starts noon at the Ferguson Law Center, 1610 N. Tampa St.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including,,, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.