GOP picks unknown to fill District 51 ballot vacancy
SEMINOLE - Local Republican officials today chose Christopher Peters to replace Terry Sanchez on the ballot for state House District 51.
Sanchez withdrew from the race against incumbent Democrat Janet Long earlier this week, saying she had not expected campaigning to be so time consuming.
Republicans first asked Leslie Waters, who held the District 51 seat until she termed out in 2006, if she would run in Sanchez's place. Waters seemed to be a logical choice because of her experience and name recognition. Whoever runs will have to do so under Sanchez's name because the ballot cannot be changed. But Waters declined, saying she wanted to concentrate on her consulting business and prepare for a future run for the state Senate.
Republican officials met today and chose Peters, 24, another unknown. Party chairman Tony Dimatteo said it will give Peters a chance to get experience on the campaign trail. Still, Dimatteo said, the GOP does not expect Peters to win, given the short time before the election and the fact that his name will not appear on the ballot.
"There isn't any real expectation of ... winning," he said. "It's just basically to fill the ballot up."
"This was an excellent opportunity for me," Peters said. Peters said he has always been interested in politics and is a dynamic person who likes a challenge.
Peters has lived in south Pasadena for 23 years. He has a business management degree from Florida State University and works at Fort De Soto as a lifeguard.
District 51 winds down the western side of Pinellas County, covering Seminole, parts of Pinellas Park, Largo and south Pasadena. It also takes in a sliver of the unincorporated Lealman area.
Anne Lindberg, Times Staff Writer