How are our local and state races shaping up?
As the qualifying period ended, 36 FL Senate and FL House Candidates were unopposed in their races, including Manatee County’s own FL State Rep Will Robinson. (both Beltran and Gregory have a General in their respective districts, 70 & 72).
In the FL Senate, Incumbents Boyd and Gruters both drew primary competition which will lead to each having an August Universal Primary Election in which all registered voters may participate.
While the lucky group of already elected legislators will have a quiet summer, that is not the case for the FL Cabinet and federal seats.
In Florida, races are set for Governor (D primary, Rep LPF NPA and WRI in General), Attorney General (D Primary, R General), Chief Financial Officer (General R/D) and Commissioner of Agriculture (R & D Primaries and General).
At the federal level, in addition to a spirited U.S. Senate race (D Primary, R LPF NPA WRI in General), all 28 Congressional districts will be contested, with 4 districts featuring 10 or more candidates. The most crowded? The vacant CD 10 in central Florida, featuring a whopping 19 candidates. In FL US House District 16, Vern Buchanan faces Martin Hyde in the R Primary and the winner faces Democrat Jan Schneider and a WRI in the General.
Locally, we have six Manatee County races that are contested. (This does not include any municipal races in Bradenton, Palmetto or on the Island communities .)
County Commission Dist. 2 has Children’s welfare advocate Amanda Ballard (R) running against the winner of the Democrat Primary between incumbent Reggie Bellamy & former Palmetto City Councilman and Former County Commissioner Charles Smith.
In County Commission Dist. 4, Challenger Mike Rahn, a Marine Veteran and mortgage broker, will face the incumbent: developer-funded Misty Servia in a closed Republican Primary. The winner of this race will face two write-in candidates in the November General.
A similar situation presents itself in the At-Large County Commission Dist. 6 Republican Primary race where 16-year incumbent Carol Whitmore faces challenges from former Marine Sniper and Businessman Jason Bearden and Coral Gables, FL native and 35 year resident of Myakka City, retired accountant Carol Ann Felts. The winner in this primary faces two write-ins in November.
In the School Board races, termed Non-Partisan by a change in the state constitution in the 1980’s, District 2 will see Manatee County Republican State Committeewoman Cindy Spray vying for votes against NPA and former NY School Superintendent Susan Agruso and former five-term Bradenton City Councilman Harold Byrd Jr, whose mother was a longtime Democrat School Board member in the 1980’s and 1990’s.
District 4 has Governor-appointed incumbent (Wesley) Chad Choate competing against surprise candidate retired Navy Lieutenant Commander Sean Conley. Both are Registered Republicans.
In the District 5 School Board Race, Incumbent School Board member James T Golden (the Manatee County Democratic Executive Committee State Committeeman) is opposed by fellow Democrat Chantel Wilford and Retired USAF Colonel Richard Tatem (aka Justin America on Radio) who is also a member of the Freedom Loving Manatee Republican Liberty Caucus.
This is the first time that School Board races will be elected by voters within their respective districts and not by an at-large vote the way it had been done previously.
All information is believed to be correct as of Friday afternoon, after the qualifying period ended and was taken from the State Division of Elections and Manatee County Supervisor of Elections WebSites.