The Republican field to replace state Rep. Larry Ahern in Florida’s House District 66 just got a little bit more crowded. On Tuesday, Pinellas County Republican Party chair Nick DiCeglie formally announced his candidacy for the seat, which covers parts of Pinellas County including the Seminole area.
DiCeglie, a staple in the Pinellas GOP community, has served as party chair since 2014 and currently heads up a solid waste collection company in Pinellas County.
DiCeglie pointed to his experience as a business owner as part of the reason why he was running for the seat.
“As a small business owner, I know firsthand how excessive government regulation and red tape hinders economic freedom and jobs for hardworking Florida families,” he wrote. “In order to be effective and get things done, we need a leader in Tallahassee with real world experience that will fight for the conservative principles our country was founded on – individual liberty and a Republic that is smaller and smarter than it is today.”
DiCeglie currently lives in Indian Rocks Beach but has spent more than 20 years in the Sunshine State, diving headfirst into local politics since his arrival from New York.
The Pinellas County Republican served two terms as chair of the Clearwater Chamber of Commerce and was appointed by the governor to the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council.
DiCeglie also served as one of Florida’s 99 delegates for the presidential election last year.
He will run in the GOP primary to replace state Rep. Larry Ahern, who faces term limits next year.
DiCeglie’s only primary competitor so far is lawyer Berny Jacques, who announced his bid for the seat in March.
Jacques, a newcomer to Florida politics, welcomed DiCeglie to the race Tuesday.
“Our campaign is focused on sharing our conservative vision to protect Pinellas county values and our way of life,” he told Sunshine State News. “We look forward to the spirited campaign ahead."
Jacques has currently raised over $76,000 between his campaign account and his political committee Protect Pinellas. In August, the campaign team raised over $10,000 in hard dollars.
Another candidate, Paul Bachmann, is also vying for the seat under the Reform Party banner, but the seat is strongly Republican so it is likely either DiCeglie or Jacques -- or another GOP contender -- would take the nomination for HD66.