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Jeff Brandes gets write-in opponent in bid for re-election to SD 24 race

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

St. Petersburg Republican Sen. Jeff Brandes looks to win re-election easily this November to his Pinellas/Hillsborough Senate District 24 seat.

No Democrat has emerged in 2016 to oppose him, perhaps intimidated by Brandes’s war chest, which includes more than $300,000 cash-on-hand.

An Army veteran, Brandes graduated from Carson-Newman College in Tennessee in 1999 with a degree in business administration. He joined the Army Reserve after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.

Brandes successfully ran for House District 52 in 2010.

After a single term in the House, Brandes ran for Senate District 22 in 2012, facing nominal opposition in the general election. However, Brandes faced a contentious primary against James “Jim” Frishe, a longtime Pinellas County lawmaker. Brandes defeated Frishe 58 to 43 percent.

In 2014, Brandes’ faced USF Florida St. Petersburg professor Judithanne McLauchlan, a veteran Democratic operative. Despite her with connections to the Clinton family, McLauchlan lost to Brandes 42 to 58 percent.

As chair of the Senate Transportation Committee, Brandes has been a staunch advocate of innovative technology, including driverless vehicles. He has also been a vocal opponent of red-light cameras, sponsoring bills in in both 2015 and 2016 to cut back their use by local governments.

According to LobbyTools, Brandes has also supported criminal justice reform, such as changes to the state’s civil asset forfeiture laws in 2016 and the use of driver’s license suspensions for a range of criminal offenses.

Write-in candidate Alexander Johnson, a Tampa resident, will appear on the ballot against Brandes in the fall.

Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served as five years as the political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. He also was the assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley. He's a San Francisco native who has now lived in Tampa for 15 years and can be reached at

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