Latest from Qualifying Week: Rep. Shawn Harrison sticks to Florida House

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The first news from Qualifying Week is a tad anticlimactic, but expected: Rep. Shawn Harrison will forgo running for the open State Senate seat created by Ronda Storms’s decision to run for Hillsborough Co. Property Appraiser and instead focus on re-election to House District 63.

“While I was humbled by the outpouring of support from friends and family who asked me to consider running for this suddenly open seat,” said Rep. Harrison, “I’m redoubling my efforts to win my current election to the Florida House of Representatives.”

Harrison had been seriously considering whether to run for the State Senate, but the prospect of him running narrowed after former Senate President Tom Lee filed for the race and garnered the support of the Senate’s incoming leadership.  Rep. Rachel Burgin is also running for the seat and is expected to be the favored candidate of the Republican grassroots.

Another reason why Harrison decided to run for re-election is his commitment to the passage of Amendment 9, a statewide referendum which, if passed, would grant a homestead tax exemption for surviving spouses of veterans or first responders killed in the line of duty.

Last week, Democrat ZJ Hafeez filed to run for District 63. Hafeez unsuccessfully ran in the 2010 for House District 67. pulling $142,000 in his previous race. This time he is running in a district that is a lot more ethnically diverse and tolerant than the seat he ran for in 2010.

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.