State Sen. Wilton Simpson to face competitor for the first time

Sen. Wilton Simpson, R-Trilby.
Sen. Wilton Simpson, R-Trilby.
Published Jun. 22, 2018|Updated Jun. 22, 2018

For the first time ever, District 10 State Sen. Wilton Simpson, who represents Hernando and Citrus counties and parts of Pasco County, will face an opponent in his try for reelection to the Florida Senate.

Democrat Michael Cottrell, whose wife announced her run against U.S. Rep. Daniel Webster for Congress in February, qualified Friday to face off with Simpson, a well-established Pasco County Republican who has held the seat since first elected in 2012.

Cottrell, 51, of Spring Hill, said his decision to challenge Simpson stems from a belief in the democratic process.

"I don't think anybody should ever run unopposed," he told the Tampa Bay Times shortly after qualifying Friday. "That means nobody has a choice."

After working as a teacher in Hernando for five years in the 1990s, Cottrell spent six years at a credit card company in Tampa. About 13 years ago, he took a job as an educator for the U.S. Department of Defense, which has stationed him in South Korea, Germany and most recently, Japan.

Cottrell said it's "annoying" that Simpson has never been challenged. He said he wants to be a candidate that represents the middle and lower classes, unlike others that work to protect the interests of the rich.

"When you're worth that much money, it's easy not to look at what the rest of the world needs and the rest of the people in your community need," he said. "With my diverse background… I hope that I can at least bring a different perspective."

Contact Megan Reeves at Follow @mareevs.