And then there were two.
Not less than a day after Gov. Rick Scott set the calendar for a special election to replace retiring Dan Raulerson, self-described conservative Republican Lawrence McClure filed paperwork with the Division of Election for the race.
Raulerson announced Tuesday he is resigning from the House District 58 seat effective Aug. 15. Scott signed an executive order Tuesday setting Oct. 10 for the primary election and Dec. 19 for the general election.
McClure, 30, joins executive and civic activist Yvonne Fry in what many expect to be a bruising Republican primary. Both candidates hail from established Plant City families, and each has deep roots in the bedroom community east of Tampa.
The text of McClure’s release:
“Our state has tremendous opportunities ahead and to fully capitalize on these opportunities we must have conservative leadership in place to foster economic growth, create jobs, secure our state, and provide a world-class education for each and every child.
“As a small-business owner, I understand firsthand just how much government can stifle innovation and make it harder to create jobs in our community. I’m running to make sure the proven, common sense conservative principles we hold dear are implemented so we can continue to grow our economy, create hundreds of thousands of news jobs, balance our budget, and have the best schools in the country.
“My wife and I have deep roots in this district and serving the people of District 58 would be an honor of a lifetime. I’m going to work day and night to earn the trust and support of voters throughout the community and I’m excited about the challenge and campaign ahead.”
As a businessperson, McClure began his career as a summer intern at the Tampa-based Streamline Environmental. Over a decade, he rose to become a partner at the firm, which works with local companies on environmental mitigation, cleaning oil spills and removing petroleum tanks.
McClure also has a long history of working with local and state elected officials and business owners on environmental policy, water supply and land use.
A Hillsborough County native, McClure played soccer and football for Plant High School. He moved to East Hillsborough County after marrying Courtney Newsome, who works in the agriculture industry as an employee of Astin Farms, a produce ranch in Plant City and Wimauma.
McClure has also been active in agriculture, mostly as a Board Member of the Hillsborough County Farm Bureau for the last two years and a current chair of the Building Committee.
McClure has brought on prominent Republican campaign consultant Tom Piccolo, reports the Tampa Bay Times. Piccolo is the brother of Fred Piccolo, a lead communications aide to House Speaker Richard Corcoran who has also worked with 2021 Speaker-designate Chris Sprowls of Palm Harbor.
Already in the 2018 race for HD 58, which encompasses Northwestern Hillsborough, is no-party affiliated Shawn Mathis Gilliam, also of Plant City. Gilliam filed before Raulerson’s resignation.