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Ray Pilon won’t run for Senate, opts for final term in HD 72

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State Rep. Ray Pilon, claiming “unfinished business,” will not run for the state Senate, instead choosing to seek a last term in the Florida House for 2016.

The Sarasota Republican faces Democrat Edward James III in the House District 72 race, making it possibly one of the most competitive races in the state.

Pilon told reporters that recent polling showed he would have been competitive in the race for the seat now held by Venice Republican state Sen. Nancy Detert, who is considering a run for Sarasota County Commission. Zac Anderson of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune reports there are three other Republicans actively eyeing HD 72, which covers most of Sarasota County east of U.S. 301 and north of Osprey.

“I think I had just as good a chance or better than anybody,” Pilon told the Herald-Tribune. “It’s a lot easier for a senior legislator to accomplish things in the last two years.”

As for the Senate race, it is shaping up  a solid field of potential contenders, and at this point Pilon had lagged a bit in fundraising.

Pilon faced strong Democratic opposition in the past, winning each time. In 2010, he beat incumbent Democratic state Rep. Keith Fitzgerald, as well as other Democrats – albeit not as formidable – in both 2012 and 2014.

Considered a more moderate region, House District 72 gives many Democrats hope of picking up a seat,  Anderson writes, especially with higher Democratic turnout in a presidential year.

However, Pilon had campaigned on a platform of “people over politics,” taking moderate positions on several issues, such as supporting federal money for Medicaid expansion and opposing some restrictions on abortion.

Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding HRNewsDaily.com. His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for Patch.com, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at phil@floridapolitics.com and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.

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