As state House and Senate candidates filed for office by Friday's deadline, Pinellas County shaped up as a political battlefield with some hotly contested, well-financed legislative races.
The players include three first-time House candidates who bear some of the county's most prominent names. Republican Chris Latvala, the son of state Sen. Jack Latvala, is seeking the open District 67 seat. Republican Bill Young II, the son of the late longtime U.S. Rep. C.W. Bill Young, is challenging state Rep. Dwight Dudley for his District 68 seat.
Lorena Grizzle, the daughter of the late legislator Mary Grizzle, is challenging Rep. Larry Ahern for his District 66 seat. Mary Grizzle was the first Republican woman elected to the Florida Legislature. Her daughter is a teacher, and also a Democrat.
Pinellas Republican Chairman Michael Guju said there will be some hard-fought contested races, but he's confident in a solid Republican year.
Pinellas Democratic Chairman Mark Hanisee said he was "very pleased with our slate."
"We're just going to continue to execute and run our game plan," he said.
A look at the candidates:
DISTRICT 20: Incumbent Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, faces a primary challenge from Zahid Roy, who lost a lopsided race to Latvala in the 2012 primary. The winner will face Libertarian candidate Tony Caso in the Nov. 4 general election.
DISTRICT 22: Incumbent Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg, will run against University of South Florida St. Petersburg professor Judithanne McLauchlan, a Democrat, in the general election.
DISTRICT 64: Incumbent Rep. James Grant, R-Tampa, whose district stretches into Oldsmar, East Lake and Safety Harbor in Pinellas County, faces fellow Republican Miriam Steinberg and write-in candidate Daniel John Matthews.
DISTRICT 65: Incumbent Rep. Carl Zimmermann, D-Palm Harbor, will go up against the winner of the Aug. 26 Republican primary. The two Republicans vying for the nomination are Assistant State Attorney Chris Sprowls and lawyer Debbie Faulkner.
DISTRICT 66: Incumbent Rep. Larry Ahern, R-Seminole, will face Democrat Lorena Grizzle in the general election.
DISTRICT 67: The seat being vacated by Rep. Ed Hooper, R-Clearwater, has attracted six candidates. On the Republican side, Chris Latvala, Christopher Shepard and Frederick Preston Thomson are running. And three have filed to run in the Democratic primary: Thomas D. Ryan, Steve Sarnoff and Shawna Vercher.
DISTRICT 68: Incumbent Dwight Dudley, D-St. Petersburg, is running for re-election. In the Republican primary, Bill Young II will face Joshua Black, a candidate who prompted widespread dismay from members of both parties when he sent out a message on Twitter calling for the hanging of President Barack Obama.
DISTRICT 69: Rep. Kathleen Peters, R-South Pasadena, has a general election opponent: lawyer Scott Orsini, a Democrat.
DISTRICT 70: The challengers to state Rep. Darryl Rouson, D-St. Petersburg, include independent candidate Philip Garrett and write-in candidate Justin M. Bauford.
Curtis Krueger can be reached at email@example.com or (727) 893-8232. On Twitter: @ckruegertimes.