UPDATED MAY 14: Brandon Michael Cannon, 26, owner of a now-shuttered Port St. Lucie senior arcade, has filed to run against state Sen. Joe Negron of Palm City in the 2014 Republican primary.
Cannon told Sunshine State News he is well aware that if his grassroots campaign should pull off an upset next year, he would be interrupting Negron's ambitions. Negron is scheduled to become president of the Florida Senate in 2016.
Cannon said his decision to run is based on his and other District 32 constituents' observations of Negron. He said they feel underserved by their senator, who literally ran from them during this past session's HB 155 debate -- "Prohibition of Electronic Gambling Devices."
"I traveled to Tallahassee with a group of seniors from Senator Negron's district," explained Cannon, owner of once-thriving BMC Arcades. "We wanted to ask for his support on 155, but first his office shielded him from us, and then, when he got off an elevator right in front of us and saw us, he turned and took off in the other direction."
Negron said Tuesday night that's not what happened. When he was coming off the elevator, he previously had been in the Senate president's office. "I wasn't ducking my constituents. That's the last thing I would do. I really take pride in my constituent services," he said.
Cannon, who describes himself -- as Negron does -- as a strong conservative who defends the Constitution, supports choice, promotes free-enterprise and economic freedom, also claims politics today needs reforming and he's up to the task.
"It's time for a new generation of politics," he says. "We need to elect politicians who don't get so wrapped up in themselves and their own ambitions that they forget who they work for. We need people who will give government back to the people."
Even the Republican Party, he said, could use a little revitalizing.
Cannon was born in Greenville, S.C., and has lived in St. Lucie County for 10 years. He said he'sworked many roles in business, including ownership, management and customer service; and has spent countless hours volunteering for senior citizens and children.
Negron won't take Cannon lightly, even though Cannon likely won't be able to match the incumbent's fundraising firepower. In 2013 the Palm City lawyer got a free pass in the primary, but amassed about $600,000 to fight businessman Ray DAmiano, D-Stuart, an opponent who made himself scarce, didn't have a website and ignored candidate interview requests from local newspaper editorial boards. For every $285 Negron raised, DAmiano raised $1. Negron won the general election 3-to-1.
Cannon said he closed his arcade shortly after Gov. Rick Scott signed HB 155. "We always had a great relationship with the St. Lucie County sheriff," he said. "I didn't want to butt heads with a man I respect. Law enforcement is having enough trouble trying to figure this bill out."
Here's a list of priorities in Cannon's first brochure:
? Re-engaging 'We the People' who control the government.
? Protecting the Constitution from the attacks on the First and Second Amendments.
? Reducing wasteful spending by streamlining a bloated government.
? Continuing the practice of capitalism and economic freedoms.
? Having health care that is affordable, and driven by competition, not controlled by government.
? Increasing the productivity in the public sector.
? Shifting the public sector to more successful private jobs.
? Decreasing the unemployment rate by increasing jobs.
? Increasing the average take-home pay of families.
? Exploring and using the natural resources our country is blessed with.
? Supporting our farmers and ranchers.
? Revitalizing the Republican Party.
? Perfecting our school system, starting at the elementary level, to provide a firm foundation for educational success.
? Strengthening the bond of family through personal freedoms.
He and his wife, Faith, have two daughters, Alyssa and Sophia.
Reach Nancy Smith at email@example.com or at (850) 727-0859.