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Paul Renner gears up ahead of 2016 re-election bid

in Statewide/Top Headlines by

Republican state Rep. Paul Renner may have just joined the Florida House, but already he is getting a taste of the “permanent campaign” that characterizes the chamber.

After officially taking office following a swearing-in ceremony on April 7 along with state Rep. Cyndi Stevenson — another electoral beneficiary of the long tail of state Sen. John Thrasher‘s exit from the Legislature in favor of assuming the presidency of Florida State University — Renner filed his re-election paperwork just one month later, on May 6.

Renner defeated Democrat Adam Morley handily during an April special election in the stoutly Republican constituency of House District 24, where GOP-registered voters outnumber Dems by about 46,000 to 38,000.

That election was called by Gov. Rick Scott in order to fill the vacant House seat left when then-Rep. (now Sen.) Travis Hutson left his seat in order to pursue Thrasher’s Senate District 6, which takes in a lot of the same Flagler County territory as HD-24.

Former state Rep. Ronald ‘Doc’ Renuart also wagered to make the jump, but was vanquished by Hutson in a public tête-à-tête between two sitting lawmakers, something of a rarity outside the decennial redistricting and reapportionment process. Hutson carried 52.2 percent of the vote on his way to the upper chamber.

Though Renner is but a rising redshirt freshman legislator, he has already made his (literal) mark on the Capitol — almost, anyway. He sponsored the House version of a Senate bill by state Sen. Nancy Detert to formally change the name of Florida’s historic (or Old) Capitol to, well, the Florida Historic Capitol.

That bill is now before the governor, pending his review and action. The bill would be Renner’s first state law on the books, should Scott sign it.

Renner is a graduate of Davidson College and the University of Florida’s Levin College of Law.

The U.S. Navy veteran sits on the Health & Human Services Subcommittee, Highway & Waterway Safety Subcommittee, Veteran & Military Affairs Subcommittee and Health Innovation Subcommittee.

Ryan Ray writes about campaigns and public policy in Tampa Bay and across the state. A contributor to 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 [email protected]

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