Another Republican candidate, former Navy pilot and military attache Demetries Grimes of Orlando, has filed to run for a new, probably GOP-friendly congressional district being created in northeast Hillsborough County.
State Rep. Jackie Toledo of South Tampa and former U.S. Rep. Dennis Ross of Lakeland are already filed for a Republican primary in the district.
None of the three live in the area the district is likely to cover, as drawn in a map proposed this week by Gov. Ron DeSantis, but all three say they expect to move there if they win or before. Grimes said he is looking for property in the Plant City area.
Grimes retired in 2017 as a Navy commander after flying E-2 “Hawkeye” surveillance and command aircraft on more than 100 combat missions including two deployments in Afghanistan, and serving as naval attache to Israel and Greece and a defense department “fellow” in Ukraine.
He ran unsucessfully for a Miami-Dade County congressional seat as a Democrat in 2018. Grimes said he’s always been a conservative and ran as a Democrat only because the district was strongly Democratic-leaning — “That was the only way we saw to take a stand.”
He vowed to “take a stand against the destructive radical left agenda that’s destroying our country,” and said he’s running “to defend the Constitution and our freedoms, which are under unprecedented assault from within.”
Grimes’s campaign manager is Polk County GOP chairperson J.C. Martin.
Asked about the GOP primary, Grimes said, “I’m the conservative and the only candidate that’s doing this out of a sense of duty. The other candidates are professional politicians doing it to serve themselves.”
The district as proposed by DeSantis would cover northeast Hillsborough, Zephyrhills and eastern Lakeland.
It voted for Donald Trump over Joe Biden by 51-48 percent, according to an analysis by political mapping expert Matthew Isbell.