You may have noticed that our last two weekly newsletters have featured a highlight on tight races in local elections in Hillsborough, Pinellas, Polk, and Pasco Counties. This is part of a series we are running to inform our clients and contacts of tight races they should keep their eyes on.
Over the next couple of weeks we will be continuing these highlights, however we will be turning our attention to State House and State Senate elections. For both chambers we will only be covering the seats in the Bay Area Legislative Delegation (BALD), which is our regional delegation made up of legislators from the eight counties in the Tampa Bay area. These 40 legislators make up 25% of the legislature and have significant influence that is important to advancing regional legislative priorities. We will be separating this highlight into multiple parts, with this week’s highlight focusing on the State House seats up for election in Citrus, Hernando, Pasco, and Pinellas Counties.
Election Day will be here sooner than you think. The Florida Primary will be held on August 30, 2016, followed by the general election which will be held on November 8, 2016. We hope you find these highlights informative and useful. If you have any questions or would like more information on particular candidates please feel free to contact us.
Florida House of Representatives
The Florida House of Representatives is the lower chamber of the Florida Legislature. It is made up of 120 members representing districts of the state, which are mapped using population and voter demographic. The leader of the House is the Speaker of the House, who in their two year term leads the House, manages its operations, and presides over its sessions. The House has 11 full committees and numerous subcommittees that deal with all policy topics including appropriations, education, taxes, and healthcare.
The District 34 seat encompasses all of Citrus and northern Hernando Counties.
Representative Jimmie Smith is leaving his seat to run for the Citrus County Commission. There is only one active candidate filed to run for his seat named Ralph Massullo.
Ralph Massulo (R) is physician whose practice has been based in Citrus County for 25 years. He is past president of the Florida Society of Dermatology Surgery, which named him its Surgeon of the Year in 1998, and is known for authoring numerous journal articles on cutting-edge medical techniques. He is running to put patients first through healthcare reforms, lower taxes and reduce regulation, and to create more trade and technical school options for Florida students.
The District 70 seat covers parts of Pinellas, Hillsborough, Manatee, and Sarasota Counties.
Representative Darryl Rouson is facing terms limits this year, so his seat is open this election cycle. Running for his seat as a Republican is Cori Steven. There are two Democrats running for the seat as well named Dan Fiorini and Wengay Newton.
Cori Fournier (R)
Dan Fiorini (D) is a business owner with years of experience working in government. He is the owner of Tyrone Frame and Mirror, a successful picture frame business in Pinellas County. Fiorini began his professional career as a municipal urban planner and Legislative Aide in the Florida House.
Wengay Newton (D) is a former St. Petersburg City Councilmember who has been an advocate for the impoverished regions of his district. He is running to reform felony laws and to add addition sunshine law rules to legislators.
Dan Fiorini, who entered the House District 70 race three months ago, raised $3,310 last month, the most of any candidate. That means he’s raised $7,175 total, compared to Democratic primary opponent Wengay Newton, who has raised $18,639 thus far, including $1,277 he added to his campaign in March. Fiorini also provided another $2,000 in self-funding to his campaign. On the Republican side, activist Sharon Russ dropped out of the race, while Cori Steven Fournier raised no money.
The District 59 seat covers eastern Hillsborough County regions including Brandon, Bloomingdale,
Representative Ross Spano is running to reelection for his District 59 seat. He has two Democrat challengers in the race; Golnaz Sahebzamani and Rena Jade Upshaw-Frazier.
Ross Spano (R) is a Florida native; he was born in Tampa and raised in Brandon. He earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of South Florida, and his Juris Doctor from the Florida State University College of Law. He was first elected in 2012, and has been reelected subsequently. Representative Spano is a practicing lawyer and a partner of Spano & Woody in Riverview. He is also an active member of the Brandon and Riverview Chambers of Commerce.
Rena Jade Upshaw-Frazier (D) is a Stetson School of Law graduate who is a practicing attorney for Quarles and Brady. She has been making headlines recently for her impressive fundraising.
Rep. Ross Spano, R-Dover, raised no money in March, leaving him at a $81,044 total. Democrat Rena Upshaw-Frazier raised $13,070 in March. Her new total is $73,306. Democrat Golnaz “Naze” Sahebzamani, raised $1,500 in March, for a $24,093 monetary contribution total.
The District 60 seat encompass South Tampa, MacDill AFB, Town N Country, and Apollo Beach.
Representative Dana Young is leaving her District 60 seat to pursue a seat in the Florida Senate. The two Republicans in the race are Jackie Toledo and Rebecca Smith. There is one Democrat in the race named David Singer.
Jackie Toledo (R) is a Tampa native who received her degree in Civil Engineering from the University of South Florida through the Latino Scholarship Program. She has worked on multiple transportation master plans as well as Hillsborough County’s Long Range Transportation Plan, the Florida Aviation System, and the 2012 Olympic bid process. Jackie is also a small business own who runs Tampa Creative Camps, which helps children build self-confidence through the arts.
Rebecca Smith (R) is a business owner and Class A contractor, who founded A.D. Morgan Corporation in 1989. She graduated from the University of Florida with a degree in Architecture and a Master of Science degree in Building Construction. She has also served as a board member of the Tampa/Hillsborough Expressway Authority.
David Singer (D) is a land use attorney who announced this week that he would be entering the District 60 race. Singer is a Chicago native who moved to Tampa in 2008 and started his own practice in 2009. He is running to improve transportation, to gain state assistance for Tampa storm water issues, and to improve the public education system.
Republican Jackeline Toledo raised $10,402 in March, bringing her total to $50,012. She also has $25,000 in loans. Her Republican opponent, Rebecca Smith, raised $81,703 according to her first finance report. Democrat David Singer and NPA candidate John Lingelbach will file their first reports next month
The District 61 seat covers most of Tampa, Ybor City, and Seminole Heights.
Representative Ed Narain is leaving his District 61 seat to pursue a seat in the Florida Senate. There are two Democrats running for his seat; Dianne Hart and Sean Shaw.
Dianne Hart (D) is a business owner who has been the proprietor of Ms. Dee’s World of Beauty hair salon since 1980. She is known as an advocate for East Tampa infrastructure and a community leader.
Sean Shaw (D) is a Tampa attorney who Gov. Charlie Crist selected to serve as the state’s Insurance Consumer Advocate for two years. He is the founder of Policyholders of Florida which campaigns against unfair property insurance increases.
Sean Shaw surpassed Democratic primary opponent Dianne Hart in fundraising last month, posting $21,493 in new contributions compared to the $2,386 Hart raised in March.
The District 63 seat encompasses Carollwood, New Tampa, North Tampa, and the USF area.
Representative Shawn Harrison is the Republican incumbent in the race. This cycle he has two Democrat opponents; Tampa City Councilwoman Lisa Montelione, and community activist Mike Reedy.
Shawn Harrison (R) is originally from Indiana, and moved to Tampa to attend the University of South Florida, and the University Of Florida College Of Law. Upon graduating he moved back to Tampa to open a law firm where he practices corporate litigation and healthcare law. He sits on the Healthcare Appropriations Subcommittee, and the Economic Development and Tourism Subcommittee.
Lisa Montelione (D)
is currently serving on the Tampa City Council, and announced her candidacy for State House in November. Professionally, she worked in banking and real estate related industries, and attended the University of South Florida. In addition to her service on the City Council, she also serves on numerous advisory and community boards.
Mike Reedy (D) is a full time activist for the LGBT community group Equality Florida, and has also served on numerous boards such as the Children’s Board of Hillsborough County, the City of Tampa’s Enterprise Zone Development Agency, and the Greater Tampa Association of Realtors. Reedy is a USF graduate who is running to focus on education issues and Medicaid.
Democrat Lisa Montelione raised the most money of any candidate in March, adding $14,150 in new donations to give her $46,128 in total contributions. Incumbent Rep. Shawn Harrison, R-Tampa, still leads in total money raised with $113,535 after he added $4,500 to his war chest last month. Democrat Mike Reedy continued to lag behind the other candidates in the race, raising $2,110 in March. He has raised $24,100 total so far.