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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Here's another House District where Democrats aren't competing

John Dicks, former mayor of Plant City, won't be running to replace Raulerson.

Special to the Times

John Dicks, former mayor of Plant City, won't be running to replace Raulerson.



As Orlando Sentinel columnist Scott Maxwell pointed out, Florida's Democrats aren't competing in some legislative districts you'd think they would if they ever want to become relevant again.

Here's another example.

John Dicks, the former Plant City mayor who may have been the Democrats’ best hope of winning the special election to replace Republican state Rep. Dan Raulerson, says he won’t run for the seat. Keep in mind, this is a district that, yes, skews GOP, but where there are 35,521 registered Democrats vs. 32,228 Republicans.

Meanwhile, two Republican candidates, Yvonne Fry and John McClure, both announced Wednesday they have gathered enough petition signatures to qualify by petition for the race.

Fry said she turned in some 500 voters’ signatures; McClure said he gathered roughly 400. Both said the county elections supervisor’s office has validated the minimum number needed, 236.

One Democratic candidate already has filed – Jose Vazquez, who ran against Raulerson in 2016, losing by 58-42 percent. At least one other Republican, Colton Curry, has expressed interest in the race.

Dicks, a lawyer and blueberry farmer, said via email Wednesday, “I consider public service to be both a calling and commitment and have been honored with the encouragement and support from so many. However, we have, right now, too many things going on in our lives (business, personal and family) to disrupt them for an unexpected and quick campaign.”

County Democratic Party Chairman Ione Townsend said the local party’s candidate recruitment committee has met with one other potential candidate but that Dicks “was he only one we actively recruited.”

She said the state Democratic Party’s House Victory committee doesn’t appear to be interested in backing a candidate in the strongly GOP-leaning district.

“I respect John’s decision but I’m very, very disappointed,” she said.

There’s not much time for more candidates to jump in –qualifying will begin Aug. 15 and end at noon Aug. 16.

The primary will be Oct. 10 and the general election Dec. 19.

Raulerson, a three-term representative from the district that covers northeast Hillsborough, announced he’s resigning from the seat this month for health and business reasons.

[Last modified: Wednesday, August 9, 2017 11:27am]


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