Here’s where sh*t stands – the local politics edition

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This blogger took a few days off to visit St. Augustine with his beautiful wife and — SURPRISE — the sun still rose in the east. What a nice break before the six-month campaign sprint just about to begin.

Still, there were interesting developments in several local races.  Here’s where sh*t stands.

One of the most significant developments was Joe Wicker dropping out of the race for District 57, an open State House seat in East Hillsborough. Wicker then turned around and endorsed Jake Raburn, who was already considered the front-runner in the race. But Raburn’s not out of the woods yet.  Brandon Chamber of Commerce President Jeff Reynolds is said to be eyeing the race.

Why do I sense Will Weatherford’s influence in Wicker’s decision to drop out? Rep. Weatherford has been working behind the scenes, where he can, to eliminate divisive primaries, as exemplified in Rep. Brad Drake’s and Rep. Eric Eisnaugle’s decisions not to challenge their Republican colleagues.  Perhaps Weatherfordleaned on Wicker to drop out of the race for District 57.  I would not be surprised.

Weatherford certainly had a role in Chris Sprowls’s decision to drop out of the race for District 65.  Sprowls had been challenging Rep. Peter Nehr, an ally of Weatherford.  Sprowls made the right decision here and has set himself up for later success.  By re-filing to run in 2014, Sprowls earned the good will of the party leadership and, after a little paperwork, he gets to keep the money he’s raised so far. Pencil Sprowls’s name in now as Nehr’s successor.

While Republicans have been working to avoid primaries, the Democrats will have an interesting primary for the newly drawn State House District 66 seat.  The party had recruited the well-liked Mary Lou Ambrose to challenge Rep. Larry Ahern, but then Cookie Kennedy was recruited by former Rep. Frank Peterman (yes, that Frank Peterman).  We even hear that Gershom Faulkner (yes, that Gershom Faulkner) is running Kennedy’s race.  That will be an interesting race to watch.

Speaking of staffing decisions, the cavalry is coming for Dwight Dudley and his campaign for District 69 (don’t ask me whether Jeff Brandes is going to run for re-election or take the leap to the Florida Senate).  Obama for America veteran Franco Ripple has crossed Alligator Alley to go to work for Dudley.  Just as I believe Dudley is about as good a candidate the Democrats could hope for in this district, so is Ripple about as good a staffer the Democrats could hope to hire for this race.

On the Republican side of this race, again, don’t ask me about what Jeff Brandes is doing.  Obviously though, others expect him to take the plunge for the Florida Senate.  Former Rep. Frank Farkas has told anyone and everyone that he will get into the race if Brandes is out, while political activist LJ Govoni is preparing to move into the district, write a big check and take a shot at the seat.

Dudley on one side, Farkas or Govoni on the other. It’s scenarios like that that first motivated me to launch this blog.

Still, Dudley, Farkas and Govoni are all better qualified candidates than one of the candidates running in District 58.  Last week, Jose Vazquez filed for the seat.  Three years before that, Jose Vazquez qualified as a write-in candidate. In papers then filed with the state, Vazquez listed his address as a prison facility near Lake Okeechobee, where he was serving time on a felony conviction for driving with a revoked or suspended license in May 2007, reported Janet Zink. He was released in early 2009.

It’s rather difficult to segue out of that blurb, so I’ll just mention that it should be a busy week on the fundraiser cocktail circuit.  There’s an event on Monday for Neil Brickfield, Dave Aronberg comes to the St. Pete Yacht Club on Wednesday to raise money for his State Attorney race and Rep. Jamie Grant has an event at the Tampa Club on Thursday.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, 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.