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THREE NOVICES SEEK GOP VOTERS' OKAY IN DISTRICT 67

As a replacement for term-limited lawmaker Ron Reagan, Republican voters for state House 67 will choose among a doctor, a doctor-and-lawyer and someone who helps people get to doctors.

All are based in Bradenton, which sits at the center of a district that extends as far south as Sarasota and north into Gibsonton.

Leading the pack in fundraising is Greg Steube, 32, an attorney and Iraq war veteran whose long list of endorsements includes that of his predecessor. With $176,647 as of March 31, Steube has raised more than competitors Jeremiah Guccione and Bob McCann combined.

Despite that advantage, and being the son of the Manatee County sheriff, Steube said, "I'm running this race every day, and I'm not taking anything for granted."

Nor is McCann, who turns 53 a week before the primary. He has a full campaign schedule in addition to his work as an emergency room physician and Bradenton-based attorney. But he's used to being busy: He went to college on the GIBill, after the Navy, and also has worked as a police officer.

While all three candidates are political neophytes, McCann points out, "I have held appointed office. I was appointed by (Jeb) Bush." He served on the Florida Board of Osteopathic Medicine, including a stint as its legislative liaison. He also was part of a pill mill task force.

Guccione's distinguishing characteristic: "I am the only candidate who was fortunate enough not to attend law school."

He is trying to establish himself as a friend to small business, having helped his stepmother grow Northwest Care Centre to about 50 employees.

The business serves developmentally disabled people, helping them find jobs, housing and transportation to medical appointments. Guccione, 33, also founded Sarasota's Heart Gallery, which helps foster children find adoptive homes.

He's trying not to be bothered by his small war chest, $61,000 as of March 31. "I am very conservative with my spending," he said.

The winner of the August primary will face two more contenders in November: Z. J. Hafeez of Apollo Beach, a Georgetown-educated attorney running on the Democratic ticket; and independent John M. Studebaker of Bradenton, who works for a direct marketing firm.

Marlene Sokol can be reached at (813) 909-4602 or sokol@sptimes.com

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