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Candidate David 'Mac' McCallister drops $30,000 into state House race in which he can't vote

Florida House District 38 Republican candidates David “Mac’’ McCallister and Randy Maggard.
Florida House District 38 Republican candidates David “Mac’’ McCallister and Randy Maggard.
Published Mar. 19, 2019

David "Mac'' McCallister can't vote for himself, but it hasn't stopped him from investing in his political future.

McCallister, one of two Republican candidates in the state House of Representatives District 38 special election, failed to relocate to Pasco County before the voter registration rolls closed last week for the April 9 primary. He remains a resident of Temple Terrace in Hillsborough County, outside the district, If elected, would have to move before he takes the oath of office.

"I hope the election doesn't come down to one vote, but it might,'' McCallister said via email. "But I'm not willing to break any laws just to get a photo op of me voting for myself.''

But he did contribute more than $30,000 toward his race against fellow Republican Randy Maggard of Dade City, according to campaign finance reports. Not to be outdone, Maggard donated $50,000 to his campaign treasury.

In addition to his own investment, Maggard reported raising $66,000 from 127 contributors, including committees tied to sitting legislators and political action committees representing health care interests and beer wholesalers. Local contributors included: Pasco County Commissioner Ron Oakley; state Rep. Amber Mariano, R-Hudson; Trinity-developer Adam Smith Enterprises; and Randy and Shannon Blankenship of Land O' Lakes and their companies, Labell Aviation and BRW Contracting.

McCallister's contributions, besides his own, totaled just under $5,000 from 22 donations.

"I realize that voters expect a candidate to demonstrate their commitment. I am fortunate to be in a position, like President Trump, able to stand up for what is right, without the support of the swamp,'' McCallister said of his largely self-financed campaign.

One of his top supporters is the Sunshine State Heritage Political Action Committee, which contributed $700 on Feb. 20 and attempted to make a second, donation of $1,250 on Feb. 25. The donation is listed on the committee's expenditure list, but not on McCallister's contribution report.

The Feb. 25 donation came the same day that McCallister's wife, Lunelle, contributed $1,250 to the committee, according to the report it filed with the state Division of Elections.

Contributions to candidates from individuals and political committees are capped at $1,000 for the primary election. McCallister said the campaign would return the donation because it exceeded the limit.

David Nash, chairman of the Sunshine State Heritage PAC, said he thought the contribution limit was $3,000. Under state law, contributions to statewide races can go as high $3,000, but $1,000 is the maximum for legislative races.

"I'm not an expert,'' said Nash of Pembrook Pines.

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Nash and his businesses also contributed a total of $300 to McCallister.

The Sunshine State Heritage Political Action Committee formed in 2016 and supported Ashley Moody's successful campaign for Florida attorney general.

"We're really selective with who we give money to,'' said Nash. "I've known Dave for years. He's big on veterans issues, big on preserving and protecting our state's history, which is obviously what our PAC is about.''

McCallister leads the Judah P. Benjamin Camp #2210 Sons of Confederate Veterans and gained notoriety in 2017 for opposing Hillsborough County's plan to move its confederate monument.

The winner of the Republican primary faces Democrat Kelly Smith of Wesley Chapel in a June 18 general election. The special election is to fill the seat vacated by former Rep. Danny Burgess of Zephyrhills who resigned to lead Florida's Department of Veteran Affairs.

House District 38 covers all of east Pasco from Ehren Cutoff in Land O' Lakes to the Polk County border.

Contact C.T. Bowen at ctbowen@tampabay.com or (813) 435-7306. Follow @CTBowen2.