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  1. Pasco

Who's the biggest President Trump fan? That may be the early question in House 38 GOP race.

The Republican primary pits a lawyer who wants to drain the swamp against a former Pasco GOP boss backed by Trump's 2016 Florida campaign chairman.
State House of Representative District 38 Republian candidates David R. "Mac'' McCallister and Randy Maggard
Published Feb. 18

Attorney David R. "Mac'' McCallister, a leader of a local southern heritage group and an unabashed President Donald Trump fan, is seeking the Republican nomination for the vacant state House of Representatives seat in District 38.

McCallister, 68, faces a GOP primary battle with businessman and former Pasco Republican Party Chairman Randy Maggard, that will be decided April 9. The winner faces Democrat Kelly Smith in June.

The timing also means the east Pasco-based House district, formerly represented by Danny Burgess, will be vacant the entire 60-day legislative session that begins next month. Burgess resigned his legislative the post after being named head of the state Department of Veterans Affairs.

In announcing his candidacy last week, McCallister issued a statement saying he wanted "to continue the Pro-Trump momentum and continue fighting for the America First agenda for our civil liberties at the state level.''

"We need to drain the Tallahassee swamp," he said. "Establishment Republicans are out of touch with the conservative movement that President Trump and Gov. Ron DeSantis are leading."

Maggard didn't wait long to counter. A day after the filing period concluded Feb. 14, his campaign issued a statement boasting of Maggard's endorsement from state Sen. Joe Gruters, the 2016 Trump Florida chairman.

"Randy led Republican efforts in Pasco County delivering a strong victory for President Trump in 2016. As a small business owner Randy knows what it takes to deliver results,'' Gruters said.

Both Republican candidates are touting their Pasco roots. Maggard was born and raised in Pasco County, and graduated from Zephyrhills High School and Pasco-Hernando Community College. He lives in Dade City and has been vice president of Sonny's Discount Appliances for more than three decades. He also represents Pasco on the Southwest Florida Water Management District governing board.

McCallister noted his own "deep roots in Florida and Pasco County,'' but he was registered to vote in Hillsborough County when he filed his campaign qualifying papers. He listed his address as a home his trust owns in Dade City that does not carry a homestead property tax exemption, according to the Pasco Property Appraiser's Office web site.

"It just irks me when people don't reside in the district they want to represent,'' said Pasco GOP Chairman Randy Evans, "but we'll let the voters decide.''

McCallister said he moved to Wesley Chapel in 1987 after graduating from Stetson Law School and has maintained his law practice in Wesley Chapel, Zephyrhills and now Dade City. He said he raised his family here, but relocated to Temple Terrace after a second marriage. His legal address, he said, will be the home on 17th Street in Dade City.

"I'm not a carpetbagger by any means,'' said McCallister, "but you can call me a refugee from Miami where I was born.''

McCallister said his platform includes expanding gun ownership rights, stopping sanctuary cities and supporting the fetal heartbeat bill that prohibits abortions about six weeks after conception.

He also said he would protect "veterans and historical monuments and memorials.'' McCallister once lobbied unsuccessfully for Samuel Pasco — a U.S. Senator, veteran of the Confederate Army and namesake for Pasco County — to be included in the Florida Veterans Hall of Fame.

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

District 38 includes all of Pasco County east of Ehren Cutoff including Wesley Chapel and the cities of Zephyrhills and Dade City.

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

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