Gregg to challenge Mathieu in GOP primary
Chris Gregg, who made unsuccessful bids for Pasco county commission and the state House, is jumping back into politics, filing this week to run for House District 36 in west Pasco.
Gregg’s entry ensures a Republican primary in August.
Jim Mathieu, chairman of Pasco’s Republican Party, filed candidacy papers just a week after Democrat Amanda Murphy won the seat in a special election in October to replace Mike Fasano, who resigned to become the county’s tax collector.
“I wasn’t surprised,” Mathieu said of Gregg’s campaign.
Gregg filed his election papers Wednesday and later posted a photograph of his candidate’s statement on Facebook with the notation, “It’s official.”
He said he intends to collect voter signatures to qualify for the race.
“I have two young kids, two boys, and I was concerned about their future,” he said of his decision to run, adding, “I’m concerned about increased government spending.”
Gregg quickly cast himself as the more conservative of the two candidates, which could aid him in the primary. Primaries generally draw party stalwarts.
Mathieu, 60, didn’t dispute that assessment, saying, “He’s to the right of the Tea Party.”
Gregg, 44, burnished his conservative image years ago.
In the 2012 race for county commission, he labeled his Republican opponents RINOs — Republicans in Name Only — in campaign flyers and was the only candidate to oppose the extension of Penny for Pasco, the sales tax that, among other things, pays for road and school construction.
Two years before that, he paid for billboards criticizing the nation’s debt. He’s also a lifetime NRA member and belongs to the Tea Party group Pasco Patriots.
The two candidates are long-acquainted, as well as being veteran campaigners.
Mathieu lost the House District 36 primary last fall to Presbyterian minister Bill Gunter. Mathieu, who served as Port Richey’s city manager, is an attorney who specializes in mediation.
In addition to running for county commission, Gregg ran in 2000 as a no-party candidate for state House.
He’s an Air Force veteran and a regional director for a company that operates blood testing labs.
He lives in New Port Richey with his wife, Lena, and their two sons.
Rich Shopes can be reached at email@example.com or (727) 869-6236.