As incumbents bow out of office, two Republican candidates appear poised
to win open state Senate seats in the northern half of the Sunshine
State come November.
With an open shot at the Republican
nomination as current incumbent, Steve Oelrich runs for Congress;
attorney Rob Bradley, who rose to become chairman of the Clay County
Commission, is a heavy favorite to win an open seat in SD 7,
representing Alachua, Baker and Clay counties.
Bradley, a former
criminal prosecutor who was appointed by then-Gov. Charlie Crist to the
Clay County Commission, has assembled an impressive war chest since
entering the race in early January. So far in the 2012 election cycle,
Bradley has raised more than $116,500 in cash and more than $2,400
through in-kind donations. So far, Bradley has kept most of his money in
the bank. By the end of the second quarter, Bradley had spent more than
$25,500 -- giving him around $81,000 for the general election.
Facing Bradley in the general election is Democratic candidate Will
Mazzotta, a 21-year-old student at the University of Florida in
Gainesville. Since entering the race in early June, Mazzotta has raised
almost $2,100 and spent more than $1,800.
Dade City businessman
Wilton Simpson also appears to be cruising as he seeks a seat in SD 18.
Simpson had been gearing up for a tough Republican primary fight with
House Speaker Pro Tempore John Legg, R-Port Richey. But in late May,
Legg announced that he was targeting another Senate seat -- the one held
by Sen. Jim Norman, R-Tampa -- leaving Simpson as the only Republican
candidate looking to represent all of Hernando and Sumter counties and
parts of Pasco County. Sen. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, who has
represented parts of Pasco and Hernando counties since being elected to
the Senate in 2002, is facing term limits and is now running for a seat
in the Florida House of Representatives.
Since entering the race
in March 2011, Simpson has pulled together an impressive fundraising
operation, bringing in $273,000 in cash and more than $17,300 through
in-kind donations. But Simpson has spent more than $245,700 of that --
including almost $212,000 during the second quarter of 2012 when it
appeared he was in a tight primary with Legg -- and has loaned his
campaign more than $50,300, including more than $35,000 in the second
quarter of 2012.
With Legg out of the race, Simpson appears to
be a heavy favorite over Joshua Smith. Like Mazzotta, Smith is a
student. The 22-year-old attends the University of South Florida. Since
entering the race in early June, Smith has raised $2,000 and spent
Reach Kevin Derby at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (850) 727-0859.
© 2011 Sunshine State News