Ray Pilon gets a Democratic challenger in House District 72

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Navy officer Greg Para promised himself that if made it back from Afghanistan, he would devote his life to helping veterans.

The Sarasota Democrat, who returned stateside last year, is making good on that commitment by challenging Republican Rep. Ray Pilon for District 72 in the Florida Legislature in 2014.

“I know what it means to work hard, and I know what it means to experience hardship,” Para told Jeremy Wallace of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

The Herald-Tribune reports Para announced he would run for the seat, which covers a large part of Sarasota County north of Osprey.

Para has his work cut out for him against the two-term Pilon, who won re-election in the Republican-leaning region with nearly 54 percent of the vote. Democrat Liz Alpert lost to Pilon in 2012 with 46 percent.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.