Former Rep. Jamey Westbrook last week joined a list of other former lawmakers who are seeking to make a Tallahassee comeback. Westbrook, who served in the Florida House from 1996 to 1998, opened a campaign account to run in the newly drawn District 7, which sprawls across 10 largely rural North Florida counties.
Westbrook, of Port St. Joe, was a Democrat during his earlier stint in the House but is running this year as a Republican. He is one of seven candidates who have filed paperwork for the District 7 race, which does not include an incumbent.
Westbrook said he effectively represented several of the counties in this new district. “One of the reasons that I’m running is that these small counties need someone with the experience and backbone to go to bat for them. You have special interest lobbyists from Miami telling legislators what they want and the smaller counties often suffer,” he said.
After a week-long trial in 1998 and after 30 minutes of jury deliberation Westbrook was acquitted of all charges in a federal indictment. “I’m glad that a jury of my peers saw that this was a last minute, trumped up, and politically motivated charge that cost me the election,” he said. The indictment was handed down the week of candidate qualifying and the trial held a week after the election in 1998.
Westbrook has spent the last 14 years running a well drilling business in the Eastern Panhandle. “As a small business owner, I know how to create jobs and balance a budget,” said Westbrook. “Many Floridians are hurting; unemployment coupled with the foreclosure crisis has affected everyone. We all know of someone who has either lost their family home or is in some unfortunate situation with an upside down mortgage,” said Westbrook. “These may be sobering statistics to some, but this is reality for many here in the Panhandle.”
He concluded, “I am running for State Representative to bring common sense solutions to these everyday issues.”
Material from the CJR.com and the News Service of Florida was used in this report.