It’s Qualifying Week for candidates running for congressional, state and local office (some federal and judicial candidates qualified last month), creating political intrigue throughout the region. Qualifying began yesterday at noon and ends at that same time on Friday.
Who’s in, who’s out and who might get in at the last minute? Here’s where sh*t stands.
U.S. Rep. C.W. “Bill” Young officially qualified Monday to see a 22nd term in Congress, having turned in enough signatures to get on the ballot. The Republican from Indian Shores in Pinellas County is running in the 13th Congressional District after redistricting. Also on Monday, Democrat Jessica Ehrlich qualified to run against the veteran congressman, who is the senior Republican in Congress. Young, 82, was first elected to Congress in 1970 after ten years in the Florida Senate.
Among the state House candidates in Tampa Bay to qualify right away were Republican incumbents Larry Ahern, Ed Hooper, Peter Nehr, and Dana Young.
Obviously, the question on everyone’s mind is what will Jack Latvala do. Does Jack Latvala run for re-election in the North Pinellas district, which is essentially his old old seat, or does he run for re-election in the South Pinellas district, which is the district he currently represents?
I believe I know the answer but, like everyone not named Latvala, I won’t really know until the paperwork is signed, sealed and delivered to the Division of Elections. BUT … I do believe that answer may come as early as Wednesday morning.
I’m trying to keep my cards close to the vest on this race; that said, if I had to offer anything I’d say Jeff Brandes seized the initiative by filing to run for the South Pinellas seat before Latvala made his decision.
Still, the number one takeaway I offer about this race is that too many involved are dramatically underestimating Jim Frishe, who has built a political career of being the tortoise beating the hare.
An interesting question about the race for the South Pinellas State Senate seat: where are the Democrats? This is the most battlegroundy of battleground seats, yet no Democrat is even on the horizon, much less thinking about running, right?
Well, one intriguing name popped up over the weekend: attorney Fran Haasch.
Fortunately for the Republicans, Haasch was never really interested in elected office. Speaking with her by phone yesterday, Haasch told me she was more than satisfied with her law practice and the numerous worthwhile projects she is already involved with in the community.
Still, Haasch running would have been interesting. Brandes and Frishe/Latvala slug it out in the primary only for the winner to face a smart, attractive, well-funded trial attorney in a presidential year.
Alright, so now that Brandes has pulled the trigger on a State Senate race, how is the race to replace him in District 68 shaping up?
Democrat Dwight Dudley is all-in, but we’re still waiting to see whether the other Democrat, Bill Nobles, follows through and qualifies for the ballot. Nobles has the petitions to qualify but does he want to create a primary in a seat the Democrats have a decent chance of winning?
On the Republican side, time to page Frank Farkas. It’s not a matter of if Farkas a running, I’m told, it’s just a matter of him filling out the paperwork. He could be in the race as early as Tuesday.
Farkas might not have as crowded a primary as originally thought. Attorney Ian Leavengood is out. Money-guy LJ Govoni isn’t likely to run, although a certain political consultant with a last name that end in a vowel is still pushing Govoni to get into the race.
There is at least one other prominent Republican giving serious consideration to running and is said to be making a decision today. Stay tuned…
Will the constitutional officers in Pinellas County – Clerk of the Courts Ken Burke, Property Appraiser Pam Dubov, Supervisor of Elections Deborah Clark, and Tax Collector Diane Nelson – all go without a challenge this election cycle? I’ve been involved in politics in Pinellas County since 1998 and I don’t remember all four of the constitutional officers being elected/re-elected without opposition.
Despite some sloppy reporting to the contrary, Rep. Rachel Burgin is staying in the State Senate race in East Hillsborough. Rep. Burgin will face-off against former Senate President Tom Lee.
Rep. Shawn Harrison made the right decision running for re-election to the Florida House, forgoing a bid for the State Senate. Harrison has a bright future in front of him in state politics, so why deal himself out of the game by (most likely) losing in a GOP primary against Burgin and Lee. Harrision also has a statewide ballot initiative – Amendment 9 – to champion this election cycle.
A write-in candidate has filed to challenge state Senate candidate Wilton Simpson, a move that should have little impact on the outcome — other than to require a contest — unless another Republican challenger emerges. Meanwhile, Speaker Designate Will Weatherford endorsed Simpson on Monday.
Jeremy Wallace notes that the Sarasota region’s two state Senate races may be over by Friday without anyone casting a vote. That is because no candidates have filed to take on either Nancy Detert or Republican Bill Galvano, who is running for a Senate district that covers most of Manatee County.