HD 5 preview: Brad Drake wants back to Tallahassee

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Former state Rep. Brad Drake has the money, name recognition and backing of the Republican establishment for a return to Tallahassee. And he says he has something else working for him in the race for the House District 5 seat.

“I have a loud voice,” said Drake who served in the Florida House from 2008 – 2012. “When you come from an underserved area, you need a loud and persistent voice to get your fair share of services.”

Drake was born into a political family. His grandfather, J. Troy Peacock served as a state representative. His father was a Walton County School Superintendent. And a cousin, Pat Thomas, served as the President of the Florida Senate.

The 2012 redistricting process put Drake in the same district as Rep. Marti Coley, R-Marianna. Rather than wage a primary battle, Drake stepped outside to allow Coley to serve her final term in the House.

That gesture earned Drake goodwill among the House Republican leadership, which has repaid him by headlining his fundraising events — As of Aug. 1, Drake has a little more than $7,635 on hand for the primary battle against Jan Hooks. The Aug. 26 winner will face two opponents in November – a Democrat and a Libertarian.

Hooks is a well-known Realtor along the Emerald Coast, a past president of the Emerald Coast Association of Realtors and raised $134,535 through Aug. 1. Her strength lies along the Walton coast. She has hired her long-time accountant, Eric Robinson, as a campaign treasurer.

In addition to Walton, HD 5 takes in Holmes, Jackson, Washington and part of north Bay County.  Though Democrats hold a 7-percent advantage in voter registration, the district favors Republican candidates. Gov. Rick Scott carried it with 62 percent of the vote in 2010 and President Barack Obama received only 26 percent of the vote in 2012.

Drake played to the anti-government sentiment of rural north Florida when he last served in the statehouse. Before the start of the 2010 session, Drake told the Jackson County Floridan he wanted to, “see how many laws I can get repealed.”

While knocking on voter doors and speaking at civic events, Drake now explains he is a traditional conservative who wants government to operate as efficiently as possible.

“I was never about zero government; that’s anarchy,” Drake said. “There is a certain level of efficient service we expect from government: public safety, infrastructure and education.”

Drake said that in those areas he “left a lot on the table,” and that he wants to go back to Tallahassee and continue his work in those areas.

Drake has raised the third most money among House candidates.  He’s hired Tallahassee-based ContributionLink to help navigate his return to the Capitol.

“Brad is the proven conservative in the race. Evidence of that lies in the fact that he has been endorsed by the NRA and FL Right to Life and has a record on immigration shared by the voters of NW Florida,” said Contribution Links’ Brecht Heuchen.

Hooks is telling voters she entered the race to provide voters an alternative to “career politicians” who only listen to the “party bosses.”  Hooks has worked as a Realtor for 16 years along the Emerald Coast and declined numerous requests to discuss her campaign.

Libertarian Karen Schoen is campaigning as “someone who will listen to the people.” Schoen is an experienced public speaker and regularly produces radio and podcast reports as part of an anti-Agenda 21 campaign. She also is opposed to the Common Core State Standards, which she says have their roots in the education policies of the former Soviet Union.

Schoen and Democrat Travis W. Pitts will appear on the November ballot with the winner of the Republican primary. Neither of the two has $500 on hand to publicize their campaigns, according to elections finance report.