By Yaël Ossowski | Florida Watchdog
TAMPA — Florida‘s political season is ready to move full steam ahead.
With the statewide primary for the Democratic and Republican parties set for Aug 14, voters in the Sunshine State have been presented with a slate of 120 candidates for 27 House congressional seats and 11 for the U.S. Senate.
Of those seeking office in the U.S. House of Representatives, 53 filed as Republicans and 36 as Democrats, according to the Florida Division of Elections.
The one Libertarian, 19 independent and 11 write-in candidates will be eligible only for the general election in November.
The six Republicans competing for the seat held by Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, are:
- U.S. Rep. Connie Mack, of District 14;
- Former U.S. Sen. George LeMieux, R-Fla.;
- Deon Long, of Winter Park;
- Col. Mike McCalister, of Plant City;
- Catholic blogger Marielena Stuart, of Naples;
- and former U.S. Rep. Dave Weldon, of District 15.
Nelson will be challenged in the Democratic primary by health entrepreneur Glenn Burkett, of Naples.
Following redistricting in the state Legislature, two more seats will be added to the congressional delegation, Districts 26 and 27. Here is a comprehensive list of the hotly-contested races to watch during the party primaries and general election.
This race will have no primary and is set for the general election in the fall, as all candidates belong to their own respective parties.
Calen Fretts, of Valparaiso, will be the Libertarian candidate.
The Democrats lined up to battle incumbent U.S. Rep. Steve Southerland:
- Leonard Bembry, of Greenville
- Former state Sen. Al Lawson, D-Tallahassee;
- Attorney Alvin Peters, of Panama City;
- Mark Schakman, of Tallahassee.
Republican U.S. Rep. Cliff Stearns, of District 6, will face in the GOP primary:
- Clay County Clerk of Courts James Jett;
- State Sen. Steve Oelrich, of Gainesville;
- Veterinarian Ted Yoho, of Gainesville.
With no Democratic challenger for general election, incumbent U.S. Rep. Ander Crenshaw, of District 4, will face his main challenges in the GOP primary:
- Corporate executive Bob Black, of Jacksonville;
- Air traffic controller Deborah Katz Pueschel, of Jacksonville.
Businessman Jim Klauder, of Fernandina Beach, will be on the November ballot as an independent.
Incumbent Democratic U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown, of District 3, will forgo the primary and face Republican karate instructor LeAnne Kolb, of Orange Park, and independent activist Eileen Fleming, of Clermont, in November.
With Stearns seeking the House seat in District 3, seven Republicans are jockeying for District 6:
- Jacksonville City Councilman Richard Clark;
- State Rep. Fred Costello, R-Ormond Beach;
- Former Navy SEAL RonDeSantis, of Vedra Beach;
- Businessman Bill Kogut, of Ormond Beach;
- Former State Tourism Commissioner Craig Miller, of Orlando;
- The Rev. Alec Pueschel, of Jacksonville, who is the husband of Deborah Katz Pueschel, seeking the District 4 seat as a GOP candidate;
- St. Johns County school board chairman Beverly Slough, of St. Johns.
U.S. Rep. Bill Posey, formerly of District 15, will face off against Democratic NASA administrator Shannon Roberts, of Cape Canaveral, and independent Sebastian City Councilman Richard Gillmor in the fall.
This newly drawn district will feature the return of former U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson, D-District 8, who faces these Republicans contenders:
- Author Todd Long, of Orlando;
- Health-care consultant Juluis Melendez, of Orlando;
- Businessman Mark Oxner, of Orlando;
- Former state Rep. John Quinones, R-Kissimmee.
Democratic challengers for the seat include:
- Jerry Lee Buechler, of Port St. Lucie;
- Businessman Jim Horn, of Palm City;
- Environmental consultant Patrick Murphy, of Palm Beach Gardens.
Democratic National Committee chairman and Democratic U.S. Rep Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, of District 20, faces no challenge in her party’s primary.
GOP candidates for Florida’s 23rd District include:
- U.S. Elections Assistance Commission member Gineen Bresso, of Fort Lauderdale;
- Businessman Ozzie deFaria, of Weston;
- Radio host Juan Eliel Garcia, of Sunrise;
- Businesswoman Karen Harrington, of Pembroke Pines.
Ilya Katz of Sunny Isles will run for the seat as an independent in the fall.
Four Democrats have filed to run against GOP Rep. David Rivera, of District 25, who was previously the subject of a campaign finance investigation that revealed he “practically lived off campaign contributions,” according to state elections officials.
Democratic challengers are: