With Ross Retiring, Who Will the GOP Field for Congress?

Dennis Ross’ surprise announcement that he’s not seeking re-election opens speculation about which Republicans will decide to seek their party’s nomination for the District 15 seat. The Ledger looks at the field:

Ed Shoemaker of Lakeland, a Republican committeeman from Polk and unsuccessful School Board candidate, has announced he will run.

Loretta Miller of Clermont is already in the race.

State Sen. Kelli Stargel of Lakeland is pondering a run. “It’s a lot to consider,” she told The Ledger. “I have a great opportunity in the Florida Senate and the leadership there.

J.C. Martin, chairman of the Polk County Republican Party, says he knows of two probable candidates but declines to name them.

15th DistrictPolitico.com mentioned several potential candidates, including Stargel. Others were state Rep. Ben Albritton of Wauchula, former state Rep. Neil Combee of Polk City, and state Sen. Tom Lee of Brandon, “who told POLITICO he was considering it,” and former state Rep. Rachel Burgin of Riverview.

FloridaPolitics.com also floated the names of Stargel, Albritton, Combee and Lee.

Capitol Hill-based Roll Call, which is more in touch with Washington perspectives than local ones, speculates on two state legislators as possible candidates:

Rep. Ross Spano of Dover, whom Roll Call describes as “a long-shot candidate for state attorney general.”

Sen. Dana Young of Tampa. Her district, which encompasses western Hillsborough and Pinellas, does not overlap with Florida’s 15th Congressional District, which stretches from Temple Terrace to Clermont.

On the Democratic side, five candidates have announced they are running. Politico notes that Andrew Learned of Valrico, a Navy Reserve officer who owns a tutoring business, has raised twice the combined total of his four rivals: Greg Pilkington of Brandon Phil Hornback of Brandon, Ray Peña of Lakeland and Cameron Magnuson. But it also notes that the $68k Learned reported at the end of December was dwarfed by Ross’ $662k warchest.

Some have suggested Polk Elections Supervisor Lori Edwards, whom Ross defeated for Congress eight years ago, try again. But she told Politico she was happy to remain in her current position.

Former Democratic U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson, who represented an Orlando-based district, told 10News that he’s thinking about running.

Dave Johnson, a Green Party member, has announced he is running for the seat as an independent.