Updating Thursday’s post about which local Republicans will be running for the local U.S. House seat now that incumbent Dennis Ross has announced he’s not seeing re-election: State Sen. Kelli Stargel of Lakeland and state Rep. Ben Albritton of Wauchula say they’re not running, but former state Rep. Neil Combee of Polk City hints on Facebook he might run.
Two Republicans have already filed with the Federal Elections Commission to run for Florida’s District 15 seat in the U.S. House: Loretta Miller of Clermont and Ed Shoemaker of Lakeland.
Stargel said after Ross’ announcement that many people had asked her to run, but she said on Facebook Saturday that she wants to stay put in the state Senate: “I am excited for the future under President Designate Galvano and Leader Simpson.”
Stargel is facing a re-election challenge this fall by Democrat Bob Doyel, a retired circuit judge, and FloridaPolitics.com notes that Democrats would have a better chance of flipping the seat if there’s no incumbent.
Albritton, who also had been the subject of speculation, told Bay News 9 he will maintain his race for the state senate, noting he has picked up 60 endorsements and wants to stay closer to his teenage sons.
Combee, who recently left his Florida House seat to take a U.S. Department of Agriculture job, posted on Facebook, “Don’t ever sell your saddle. You never know what tomorrow brings,” according to FloridaPolitics.com. (LkldNow couldn’t find that post, but it could be one that was visible only to Combee’s Facebook friends.)
FloridaPolitics added: “A Republican consultant close to Combee didn’t need a codebreaker to translate that message – he said it means the former lawmaker is close to declaring for the seat.”
Sen. Tom Lee of Thonotosassa is also said to be considered running for the seat. Earlier in the year, he was said to be running for Florida chief financial officer, but he has not announced for that position yet.
Candidates from both parties have until May 4 to file for the office.
The Democratic primary has attracted six candidates: Phil Hornback of Brandon, Andrew Learned of Valrico, Cameron Magnuson of Brandon, Raymond Peña of Lakeland, James Pilkington of Indian Lake Estates and Jeffrey Rabinowitz of Clermont.
A seventh candidate, Greg Williams of Lakeland, has dropped out of the race, saying he supports Learned, who is far ahead of the other Democrats in fund-raising.