Former House Speaker Will Weatherford is backing Ed Hooper for the state senate seat being vacated by Clearwater Republican Jack Latvala, who terms out in 2018.
“Ed Hooper was an important member of my leadership team when I was Speaker of the Florida House, I could always rely on him for good counsel,” Weatherford said, “I also relied on his ability to navigate the land mines of special interests in the Capitol to accomplish our conservative agenda. Ed Hooper will be an outstanding member of the Senate and that is why I endorse him.”
Weatherford joins Republican Sens. Jeff Brandes and Dana Young, Pinellas Sheriff Bob Gualtieri and Pasco Sheriff Chris Nocco in endorsing Hooper for the seat.
The Clearwater Republican spent eight years in the House representing District 67, which was taken over by Republican Rep. Chris Latvala in 2014.
Since exiting the Legislature, Hooper has been working as a consultant. Currently he is the only GOP candidate running for Senate District 16, which covers northwestern Pinellas and southwestern Pasco counties, including the communities of New Port Richey, Tarpon Springs, Dunedin, Oldsmar and Clearwater.
The only other candidate in the race is Democrat Bernie Fensterwald, who filed back in June. Through the end of July, Hooper had around $90,000 on hand in his campaign account compared to just $2,000 for Fensterwald.
SD 16 is a reliably Republican district. About 38 percent of the electorate are registered Republicans compared to a 35 percent share who are registered Democrats.
In 2016, Latvala was virtually unopposed for re-election and took over 99 percent of the vote against write-in candidate Katherine Perkins.