Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Lakeland's Sen. Dockery may join race for governor

State Republican leaders may be working overtime to clear the gubernatorial field for Bill McCollum, but one energetic Republican state senator isn't ready to get on board.

"The Republican Party's in trouble now, and I've spent my entire adult life building up the party," said state Sen. Paula Dockery, who said she is seriously considering running for governor. "Republicans are going to have a tough time getting elected unless we show that we are the party of women and Hispanics and minorities, and we don't all have to fit into the same, small mind-set."

Dockery, 47, is also looking at running to succeed Adam Putnam in Congress, though Republican former state Rep. Dennis Ross has already raised $500,000 for that race. She said she only started considering a gubernatorial run a few days ago amid encouragement from people hailing her efforts to kill a controversial commuter rail project in the Orlando area.

"The people that are calling me and encouraging me to run are all over the board, from the far right to the far left," said Dockery. "I'm hearing more from Democrats trying to keep me out of the race."

Democrats have united behind Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink for governor, and Dockery allies think the Lakeland rancher and farmer would be a stronger candidate against Sink than McCollum would be.

But state party leaders are eager to avoid an expensive and divisive primary. State Republican chairman Jim Greer and legislative leaders have endorsed McCollum, who also has lined up many of the state's top Republican fundraisers.

Dockery said no one expected her to defeat the army of lobbyists pushing the commuter rail project, so long odds would not necessarily dissuade her. She also has considerable resources of her own as her husband, Lakeland businessman C.C. "Doc" Dockery, spent millions of dollars promoting a high-speed rail ballot initiative in 2000.

"I have no doubt the party would stick with McCollum and try to avoid a primary thinking it would hurt the party," said Dockery, who expects to make a decision in a few weeks. "I think giving people a choice would help the party."

Adam C. Smith can be reached at or (727)893-8241.

Lakeland's Sen. Dockery may join race for governor 05/27/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, May 27, 2009 10:21pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Top things to do in Tampa Bay for the week of May 29-June 4


    Memorial Day: Among the free events paying tribute to fallen soldiers today is the Bay Pines VA Memorial Day Ceremony in St. Petersburg, with speakers including Sen. Bill Nelson and Rep. Charlie Christ, musical performances, a rifle salute and taps. (727) 319-6479 . The Florida National Cemetery …

    Young blonde boy carrying an American Flag over a wooden Bridge.
  2. Sheriff's Office: Drug dispute preceded fatal Largo motel shooting


    LARGO — A fight over drugs preceded the shooting death of a 47-year-old man Thursday night at a Largo motel, the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office said Sunday.

    Angel E. Martinez, 24, is accused in the shooting death of Ricky Garland, 47, according to the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office. [Pinellas County Jail]
  3. Nearly 40 hospitalized on first day of Sunset Music Festival, on pace to exceed last year


    To reduce the number of medical emergencies this year, sponsors of the Sunset Music Festival promised heightened security and safety measures during this weekend's event at Raymond James Stadium.

    Thousands of people crowd the main stage at the Sunset Music Festival on Saturday in the north Raymond James Stadium parking area. The temperature at the time of the photo was 92 degrees. [LUIS SANTANA   |   Times]
  4. Woman killed in overnight Temple Terrace apartment fire, city says


    TEMPLE TERRACE — A woman died early Sunday as a result of a fire at an apartment complex, city officials said.

  5. Video: Indianapolis 500 drivers in fiery crash somehow walk away uninjured

    Auto racing

    Scott Dixon and Jay Howard avoided injury in a spectacular crash - or what Dixon labeled "a wild ride" afterward - during the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday.