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Steve Crisafulli Starts Shaping GOP Primaries as he Builds His Florida House

June 23, 2014 - 6:00pm
Incoming House Speaker Steve Crisafulli, R-Merritt Island, announced on Tuesday he was backing three Republicans who have contested primaries as they look to enter the Florida House: Chris Latvala, Rene Coach P Plasencia and Bill Young.

All three of the Republicans Crisafulli threw his support to are involved in primary fights. Latvala is running against Christopher Shepard in the Republican primary to replace term-limited Rep. Ed Hooper, R-Clearwater. Plasencia is battling Ed Rodriguez in the Republican primary with the winner taking on Rep. Joe Saunders, D-Orlando. Young, the son and namesake of the late, longtime U.S. Rep. Bill Young, R-Fla., faces Joshua Black in the Republican primary to see who challenges Rep. Dwight Dudley, D-St. Petersburg.

"These outstanding candidates will do a fantastic job of representing their constituents in Tallahassee next year," said Crisafulli. "I look forward to working with them to help create jobs, improve our schools, and keep Florida moving in the right direction."

Crisafulli has waded into competitive primaries before, backing former Rep. Brad Drake over Jan Hooks in the Republican primary to replace term-limited Rep. Marti Coley, R-Marianna, and Chris Sprowls over Deborah Faulkner to challenge Rep. Carl Zimmerman, D-Dunedin. The incoming speaker has also backed former Rep. Scott Plakon who is running against Rep. Mike Clelland, D-Longwood, but he is the only Republican in the contest.

"These six leaders will have a lot of momentum going into November and will help form the foundation for a strong Republican majority after Election Day," said Crisafulli.

But while Crisafulli waded into some battles, he avoided some of the most contentious Republican primaries for open House seats. Crisafulli has, so far, not entered the four-candidate Republican contest -- it was larger before qualification -- for the seat currently held by term-limited Rep. Jimmy Patronis, R-Panama City. Over in Jacksonville, where banker Jay Fant and attorney Paul Renner are battling in the Republican primary to replace retiring Rep. Daniel Davis, R-Jacksonville, Crisafulli hasnt gotten involved yet.

The same holds true in Central Florida where Crisafulli isnt backing any of the six candidates battling in the Republican primary to replace term-limited Rep. Bryan Nelson, R-Apopka, or contests to replace other Republicans facing term limits like Rep. Seth McKeel, R-Lakeland.

Despite backing Plasencia, Sprowls and Young, Crisafulli is not backing Republican candidates in the primaries to challenge the likes of Rep. Karen Castor Dentel, D-Maitland, and Rep. Linda Stewart, D-Orlando, who the GOP hopes to knock off in November.

Reach Kevin Derby at

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