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Political Bits and Pieces

August 24, 2011 - 6:00pm

The field of Republicans looking to take on Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson continues jockeying for position. Besides holding the second of his workday events later this month in Mount Dora at the gunshop owned by former state Sen. Carey Baker, central Florida businessman Craig Miller has been picking up the pace of his media activities in August with several television and radio appearances ... Republican strategist and former Jeb Bush adviser, Sally Bradshaw, is backing former state House Majority Leader Adam Hasner for the Republican nomination. Bradshaw told the St. Petersburg Times that she sees the race coming down to Hasner and former U.S. Sen. George LeMieux ... Speaking of LeMieux, his campaign has been featuring testimony from supporters on why they are backing the former U.S. senator to return to Washington. Republican activist Jacob Engels -- best known for his past leadership of the states Teen Age Republicans (TARs) -- was one such featured LeMieux supporter ...

While she might be the newest candidate in the crowed Republican primary field looking to take on Nelson, conservative writer and activist Marielena Stuart is hitting the ground running. Her schedule is filling up with events and appearances throughout the fall. Stuart will be heading across the state with appearances already set up in various regions ... While U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan has left the door open to running in the Senate primary, he does not appear to be doing much in the way of preparing such a campaign. On Wednesday, Buchanan held a town hall event at his new office in Bradenton ... A familiar face will be lining up to take on U.S. Rep. Ander Crenshaw in 2012. Retired federal employee Deborah Katz Pueschel is challenging Crenshaw -- yet again -- as a Republican. Pueschel pulled 10 percent against Crenshaw back in the 2002 and 2004 primaries ...

Some of the state House races in 2012 are starting to take shape. Rep. Jimmie Smith, R-Lecanto, who represents all of Citrus County and parts of Hernando and Levy counties, will face a challenge from Democratic leader Lynn Dostal. Look for Dostal, who is a precinct captain and active with the Southwest Citrus Democratic Club, to attempt to connect Smith to Gov. Rick Scott. Dostal has backed efforts to recall Scott ... It appears that Rep. Peter Nehr, R-Tarpon Springs, will be fighting a two-front war as he seeks his fourth term in the Florida House. Nehr, who currently represents parts of Pasco and Pinellas counties, was already expecting a rematch from Marg Baker who ran against him in the Republican primary in 2010. Now Nehr will face another Republican challenger -- Philip William Tropea. A writer and singer who hosted a radio show for the better part of two decades on the arts, Tropea is not a political novice, having spent years as an active leader, debater and organizer with the Conservative Party of New York State -- the third-party affiliated with the iconic conservative figure William F. Buckley and his brother former U.S. Sen. Jim Buckley ... Nehr is not alone in facing a new challenge from the right -- so is Rep. Matt Caldwell, R-Fort Myers, who represents part of Lee County. Eugene Scott Willard intends to challenge Caldwell in 2012 on the Constitution Party line ...

Whileprohibited from raising funds during the legislative session, fundraising in the first half of 2011 by Rep. Betty Reed, D-Tampa, was pathetic. She brought in just over $4,000 but spent less than $550 of that. Reed is facing a primary challenge from Tatiana Denson. Denson was only $300 behind what Reed made in the second quarter, though the challenger spent most of it during the same period ... With Rep. Marty Kiar, D-Parkland, running for a seat in the state Senate, it looks like Broward County voters from major parties can expect to vote in primaries to see who replaces him. Three Democrats -- Robin Behrman, Katie Edwards and Donald Prichard -- have lined up, as have Merick Lewin and Lynnette Simon on the Republican side ... Does anyone in Miami-Dade want to be a state representative? With Rep. Luis Garcia, D-Miami, running against Republican freshman U.S. Rep. David Rivera, so far no other candidates from either party have filed to run for his state House seat.

Reach Kevin Derby at or at (850) 727-0859.

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