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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

No contest: Fourth of Legislature elected without opposition



More candidates are running for the Florida Legislature than in past cycles, but one of every four seats was decided with no opposition. The lucky lawmakers are 12 senators (eight Republicans and four Democrats) and 30 state representatives (16Rs and 14Ds).

Their campaigns are over and they must stop fund-raising, but they can and will help other candidates while deciding what to do with their leftover campaign money.

Five legislators running for the first time in open seats won without opposition -- a rare feat. Technically senators-elect until they are sworn in in November, they are George Gainer, R-Panama City; Lauren Book, D-Plantation; and Perry Thurston, D-Lauderhill. Other senators elected unopposed are Republicans Aaron Bean, Rob Bradley, David Simmons, Wilton Simpson, Tom Lee, Bill Galvano and Denise Grimsley and Democrats Audrey Gibson and Oscar Braynon.

Three House freshmen, all Republicans, got free rides. They are Reps.-elect Don Hahnfeldt, R-The Villages; Ralph Massullo, R-Lecanto; and Michael Grant, R-Port Charlotte. (Thurston and Grant are former House members).

The other House members elected unopposed are Republicans Halsey Beshears, Cyndi Stevenson, Larry Metz, Richard Corcoran, Danny Burgess, Eric Eisnaugle, Cary Pigman, Jake Raburn, James Grant, Jim Boyd, Dane Eagle, Heather Fitzenhagen and Bill Hager, along with Democrats Clovis Watson Jr., Janet Cruz, Joe Abruzzo, Larry Lee, Bobby DuBose, Kristin Jacobs, Jared Moskowitz, Katie Edwards, Evan Jenne, Joe Geller, Shevrin Jones, Sharon Pritchett, Cynthia Stafford and Kionne McGhee.

If you think this is a bad trend, consider this: Two years ago, 38 House members were elected unopposed.

Here's a noteworthy bit of trivia: Sen. Simpson, R-Trilby, has stood for office in 2012, 2014 and 2016 because of redistricting, but has yet to face opposition. The Pasco County farmer, a prospective Senate president in the 2020-2022 cycle, has never been on the ballot.

[Last modified: Saturday, June 25, 2016 9:43am]


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