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Republican Jay Collins moves to Florida Senate race with DeSantis endorsement

Collins initially ran for Florida’s 14th Congressional District, then moved into a different congressional race in May.
Jarrid "Jay" Collins, seen in June 2019 preparing for a rugby match at the Warrior Games in Tampa, is running for Florida's Senate District 14.
Jarrid "Jay" Collins, seen in June 2019 preparing for a rugby match at the Warrior Games in Tampa, is running for Florida's Senate District 14. [ Times (2019) ]
Published Jun. 15

With a key endorsement from Gov. Ron DeSantis, Republican Jay Collins is again switching races.

Collins will run instead for Florida’s 14th Senate District seat, currently held by incumbent state Sen. Janet Cruz.

DeSantis waded into the Tampa-area Senate race in a tweet announcing his endorsement of Collins, a Green Beret veteran. It’s the latest example of the powerful governor getting involved in state legislative races this election.

Collins initially had been slated to run for Florida’s 14th Congressional District against Democratic U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, where he out-fundraised Castor for three fiscal quarters in a row. In May, Collins announced he would instead run for Florida’s 15th Congressional District, an open seat that has attracted a crowded Republican primary.

At the time, Collins said he wanted to move into the 15th District to challenge opponents who were “career politicians.”

“Time and time again, I’ve answered the call to serve this country,” Collins said in a tweet after DeSantis’ endorsement announcement. “I look forward to continuing that mission alongside our great governor.”

The Senate district has become slightly more blue after redistricting and covers northwest Hillsborough down to South Tampa.

Cruz, a Democrat, was elected to the state Senate in 2018 and previously served in the state House.

Shawn Harrison, a former state representative, is also running for the state Senate seat as a Republican. Harrison announced his campaign with the support of Senate President Wilton Simpson and incoming Senate President Kathleen Passidomo — putting DeSantis’ endorsement at odds, again, with Legislative leadership and Tallahassee tradition.

Harrison could not immediately be reached for comment. Cruz did not immediately return a call for comment.

In March, DeSantis weighed in on the race for Senate District 11, which promised to be a tough primary between two Republican House representatives — Reps. Blaise Ingoglia and Ralph Massullo.

After DeSantis endorsed Ingoglia, Massullo dropped back to the House race, causing a scramble among some of the candidates who had filed to run for the seat he appeared to be departing.

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