The phones have been ringing about who will run for State Rep. Clay Ford’s seat. Several hopefuls trekked to Tallahassee to meet with Republican and Democratic party officials.
Escambia County commissioners Grover Robinson and Lumon May have told me that they aren’t interested. Reportedly Gene Valentino has told insiders that he is only interested in the Lt. Governor position.
There is a rumor that Mayor Ashton Hayward might jump in the race to get out of the mess his created a city hall. I doubt he will take the salary cut.
Councilman Larry Johnson, whose term is up in 2014, has been lobbying for support for weeks, but has yet to gain much traction with the Florida Democratic Party. Charles Bare and Gerald Wingate have been mentioned.
Bare, a Republican, is a very attractive candidate, but may have his sights on the mayor’s job. Wingate impressed local Democrats with his recent handling City Attorney Jim Messer on the Y lease.
Former Councilman Hugh King has been told by the State Democrats to take a hike. He left the party in 2012 to run as NPA against Lumon May and was soundly trounced.
There is always a chance a Benson will run—Lois, Holly or Megan (Pratt)—which could freeze out money from other GOP hopefuls.
Here are other names being mentioned:
GOP: Former City Councilman Jack Nobles (wouldn’t it be great to see a Nobles-Johnson showdown?), Frank White (son-in-law of Sandy Sansing), former State Rep. Dave Murzin, former Gulf Breeze Mayor & Santa Rosa School Board member Ed Gray, III.
Democrats: SRIA member Fred Gant, DeeDee Ritchie Davis, Claudia Brown-Curry, Rev. Joseph Marshall, Aaron Watson, Clorissti Mitchell, Elvin McCorvey, Patrick Madden.
Stay tuned. Florida Democrats think they can win back this seat. GOP want to keep it. Both parties will pour money into this race, but the candidates have to show they’re viable—which means raising about $25K on their own.