Florida – U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, Florida’s lone statewide elected Democrat, formally qualified to run for a fourth term Monday as he faces a challenge from Republican Gov. Rick Scott.
Nelson made his candidacy official as the qualifying period for federal offices opened at noon Monday.
Meanwhile, 17 of the state’s 27 incumbent U.S. House members also qualified when the period opened, with three — Republicans Brian Mast of Palm City and Matt Gaetz of Fort Walton Beach and Democrat Val Demings of Orlando — facing primary challenges.
Scott did not qualify Monday. Instead, his campaign team touted raising $3.2 million since Scott announced three weeks ago that he was entering the Senate race.
But it’s still early in the week. Federal candidates, along with candidates for judgeships and state-attorney and public-defender posts, have until noon Friday to qualify.
The qualifying period for other state and local offices will be June 18 to June 22.
While almost every congressional seat is expected to be contested, the first day of qualifying set up 11 Republican-Democrat clashes in November, with Democratic challengers in place for incumbent Republicans Neal Dunn, Ted Yoho, Bill Posey, Gus Bilirakis, Vern Buchanan and Carlos Curbelo. Also, incumbent Democrat Charlie Crist faces a Republican challenger.
Four Republican-held U.S. House seats are being vacated this year, with Tom Rooney, Dennis Ross and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen retiring and Ron DeSantis running for governor.
Two potential high-profile candidates for congressional seats continued Monday to keep the pundits waiting.
State Sen. Tom Lee, R-Thonotosassa, has said he is looking at Ross’ seat but did not immediately qualify.
Also, former U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson, a Democrat from Orlando, has been making noise about running but did not file paperwork Monday.
Former state Rep. Neil Combee, a Polk County Republican, is among those who did qualify Monday for Ross’ seat.
Also state Sen. Greg Steube, R-Sarasota, filed for Rooney’s seat. Steube has submitted his irrevocable resignation from the Senate — effective Nov. 6 — to meet the requirements of a new resign-to-run law (SB 186), which Scott signed on March 30.
The law, which Steube supported, requires local and state office-holders to resign their seats if running for federal offices that overlap their current terms. A similar law had already been in place for state and local officials running for other state and local offices.
As of 6 p.m. Monday, these U.S. Senate and congressional candidates had qualified, according to the state Division of Elections website:
- U.S. SENATE: Nelson, DEM; Charles Frederick Tolbert, write-in.
- CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT 1: Gaetz, GOP; Cris Dosev, GOP; Rep. Gaetz, GOP; John Mills, GOP.
- CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT 2: Dunn, GOP; Brandon Peters, DEM; Bob Rackleff, DEM.
- CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT 3: Yoho, GOP; Dushyant Jethagir Gosai, DEM.
- CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT 4: U.S. Rep. John Rutherford, GOP; Gary Koniz, write-in.
- CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT 6: Fred Costello, GOP; Nancy Soderberg, DEM; John Upchurch, DEM; John Ward, GOP.
- CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT 7: U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy, DEM.
- CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT 8: Posey, GOP; Sanjay Patel, DEM.
- CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT 9: U.S. Rep. Darren Soto, DEM.
- CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT 10: Demings, DEM; Wade Darius, DEM.
- CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT 11: Dana Cottrell, DEM.
- CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT 12: Bilirakis, GOP; Chris Hunter, DEM; Robert Matthew Tager, DEM.
- CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT 13: Crist, DEM; Brad Sostack, GOP.
- CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT 15: Combee, GOP: Dave Johnson, write-in; Andrew Learned, DEM; Jeffrey Rabinowitz, write-in.
- CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT 16: Buchanan, GOP; Jan Schneider, DEM.
- CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT 17: Steube, GOP: Bill Pollard, DEM.
- CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT 18: Mast, GOP; Mark Freeman, GOP.
- CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT 19: Pete Pollard, write-in.
- CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT 20: U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings, DEM; Jay Bonner, write-in.
- CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT 21: U.S. Rep. Lois Frankel, DEM.
- CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT 22: U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch, DEM.
- CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT 23: U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, DEM; Tim Canova, NPA; Don Endriss, NPA.
- CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT 25: Alina Irene Valdes, DEM.
- CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT 26: Curbelo, GOP; Demetries Andrew Grimes, DEM; Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, DEM.
- CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT 27: Angie Chirino, GOP; Michael A. Hepburn, DEM; Stephen Marks, GOP; Michael Ohevzion, GOP; Maria Peiro, GOP; David Richardson, DEM; Maria Elvira Salazar, GOP.
Photo courtesy Celeste Monsour and Flickr.com.