Republican State Senator Jack Latvala tells me he will file his candidate qualifying paperwork on Wednesday for State Senate District 20 in north Pinellas, ending any speculation he and Rep. Jim Frishe might “switch” seats so that Latvala could take on Rep. Jeff Brandes in State Senate District 22 in south Pinellas.
In recent weeks, decisions by other candidates for State Senate, such as John Legg’s choice to challenge Sen. Jim Norman, have made it all-but-unnecessary for Latvala to risk his political career by running against Brandes. Even if Brandes were to defeat Frishe, a Latvala ally, and not support Latvala, it’s likely Latvala will still have enough pledges from his other colleagues to become Senate President after Don Gaetz and Andy Gardiner.
Last Thursday, Brandes filed for the south Pinellas State Senate seat. “We need a strong leader to represent south Pinellas. I’ve shown leadership in the House and I bring a fresh perspective both as a small business owner and former military officer,” said Brandes, 36.
Latvala was not happy with Brandes’ decision, calling him a “Johnny-come-lately” with nowhere near the community involvement or legislative experience as himself or Frishe, according to Adam Smith fo the Tampa Bay Times.
“But we dont have millions of dollars in our pockets to blow and move up the ladder,” he said, referring to Brandes’ wealth as a member of the former Cox Lumber family.
As for Frishe, he said he is eager to run against Brandes and any other challenger who might decide to file before the qualifying period ends at noon on Friday. “I’ve been running flat-out for this seat for quite some time now.”
Frishe noted that he has been endorsed by Senate President Designate Andy Gardiner, outgoing Senator Dennis Jones, St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster and almost all of the Republican elected officials in the district.
Still, with Brandes’ energy — and his checkbook — the race for District 22 promises to be one of the marquee state legislative elections this election cycle.
Stay tuned to SaintPetersBlog for the latest updates.
Material from the Tampa Bay Times was used in this post. Disclosure: Basically, I like everyone mentioned in the post above.