More than three years out, the race to take over for Venice Republican Sen. Nancy Detert is heating up.
Republican Nora Patterson jumped into the Senate District 28 race Monday, making her the second candidate in the race after former District 74 Rep. Doug Holder filed in January 2013.
Patterson is a former member of the Sarasota county and city commissions and has also served city’s mayor. Patterson’s long political career and name recognition undoubtedly gives her good footing in the race: Sarasota’s Bay Island Park was renamed to honor Patterson in May.
The race could change drastically, though, depending on whether Detert opts to leave the Senate early to seek local office, a possibility she has been publicly stated several times. If that happens, the race is likely to draw more familiar faces: Sarasota Republican Rep. Greg Steube has made clear he’s interested in the seat, and would run in 2016.
District 72 Rep. Ray Pilon said he would opt out of a 2016 run and go for his fourth term in the House, though that could change. He is currently behind Democrat Edward James III in fundraising for District 72. If Detert holds her place, though, expect Pilon to make a run in 2018.
In January, former state Sen. Mike Bennett said he was thinking about a run as well, telling the Sarasota Herald-Tribune he hadn’t ruled it out. Bennett was in the senate from 2002 through 2012, and since has been elected Manatee County elections supervisor, which he would have to give up should he choose to run for Detert’s seat.
Count Patterson in for the special election as well. She told the Herald-Tribune she was interested in a 2016 run, but said she would not make any moves out of respect for Detert. If all interested parties file, the race could end up as one of the more contentious Republican primaries in recent memory.
Whoever jumps in will have some catching up to do on the fundraising side, though. Holder has raised about $135,000 since he filed for the seat, and spent about $33,000. Heading into August, his campaign had $101,327 cash on-hand.