BROOKSVILLE — H. David Werder has run for office so many times that it might be more surprising if he weren't around come campaign season.
No surprises for 2012. Werder, whose claim to semi-fame is breaking a world record by once sitting atop a flagpole in Clearwater for 439 days to protest gas prices, is back.
The 56-year-old Spring Hill resident is the first Democrat to prefile to run for 5th District congressional seat won in 2010 by Rich Nugent, a Spring Hill Republican.
Werder, who does not have a phone at his home on Powell Road, could not be reached for comment.
A New Jersey native, Werder has run for elected office at least eight times, four of them for the 5th District seat, but has never garnered enough votes to pose a significant challenge.
Last year, after failing to secure enough signatures to get on the ballot for the congressional race, he made a bid for the Florida House seat currently held by Rep. Rob Schenck, R-Spring Hill. Werder took a little more than 10 percent of the vote in a three-way Democratic primary.
Werder worked as truck driver before quitting after an accident left him disabled. He graduated from high school in New York and never finished college.
John Russell, a 55-year-old Dade City acute care nurse practitioner who has run for the seat three times as a Democrat, has prefiled as a no-party candidate. So has Eileen Fleming, a 57-year-old self-described progressive social justice activist from Clermont.
So far, no Republican has prefiled to challenge Nugent.
The district of roughly 930,000 people sprawls across all of Citrus, Hernando, and Sumter counties, most of Lake, Levy, and Pasco counties and portions of Marion and Polk. It is considered among the state's most overpopulated and is expected to undergo significant changes in the redistricting process set to finish next year.
Tony Marrero can be reached at (353) 848-1431 or [email protected]