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Mike Clelland confirms he’s running for SD 13 seat

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Former Rep. Mike Clelland confirmed speculation he will indeed run for the open state Senate seat vacated by term-limited President Andy Gardiner this year.

The former Democratic lawmaker issued a statement Monday corroborating reports — first reported by Florida Politics — he will pursue a return to the statehouse.

“Throughout my nearly three decades as a firefighter, I saw firsthand every day what can be accomplished when we work together for the public good. Unfortunately, I have also seen firsthand how things work in the Florida Legislature,” Clelland said.

“I’m running for the Florida Senate because I believe that there is no higher honor than public service. There’s simply too much at stake to stay on the sidelines while career politicians play politics with the future of our great state.”

Clelland joins Realtor Dean Asher and Chuck Sheridan, both Republicans, as well as Democratic Orange County School Board member Rick Roach in seeking to succeed Gardiner.

Fellow former Rep. Linda Stewart is expected to join the race in the coming weeks as well.

Stewart, like Clelland, was also vanquished during the 2014 midterms that wiped out half a dozen central Florida Democrats. Republican Rep. Scott Plakon bested Clelland 57 to 43 in November 2014.

He pledged Monday to continue fighting for reform in the moderate Central Florida swing seat.

“Tallahassee is broken. Too many politicians on both sides are more focused on political games than actually making our schools stronger, helping small businesses, and protecting our land and water,” said Clelland. “The people of Florida deserve better. Rather than trying to find the Republican or Democrat solution, it’s time we get back to finding the right solution.

“I don’t have all the answers, but I’m ready to work with anyone in any political party who is ready to roll up their sleeves and find realistic solutions to the problems we face. As your state senator, I’ll work every day to protect and promote Florida small businesses, to stop the over-testing and corporate handouts that have corrupted our education system, and to ensure that we preserve our environment for future generations. We can’t wait any longer to solve our problems, but I know that working together we can achieve a brighter future for all Floridians.”

Ryan Ray writes about campaigns and public policy in Tampa Bay and across the state. A contributor to FloridaPolitics.com and before that, The Florida Squeeze, he covers the Legislature as a member of the Florida Capitol Press Corps and has worked as a staffer on several campaigns. He can be reached at ryan@floridapolitics.com.

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